Funk is root-bound; the biggest news in the past 30 years has been the advent of sequencers, samples and turntables. There used to be regional differences—Oakland funk, New Orleans funk—and it’s said that there still are, but with 20 jazz/funk/jam bands from Boulder, Colo., alone making the rounds of university towns every fall, who can tell what they are anymore? Spotted knapweed used to be a regional thing, too—somewhere in Eurasia. A connoisseur might be able to unravel the various regional threads in a blindfold test, but unless you’re a human repository of funk folkways, the dialectical differences are increasingly irrelevant.
And funk has its superstars—Galactic drummer Stanton Moore being one of the brightest, although the reasons why might not be immediately clear from the band’s new album, Ruckus. What’s so amazing about holding down the same lazy beat, more or less, for eight minutes? By the time Moore really gets down and dirty on “Doomed,” the album is over. Compared to, say, Mike Clark (who played with Herbie Hancock on three albums and later held down the drum throne in the post-Hancock Headhunters for four albums), Moore is more like the John Bonham of funk.
Funk comes apart like wet cake when you try to describe it, which is why you’ll notice that when you read a review of a funk album, half the space is generally given over to a space-filling list of the funkis personae. When it’s in the right hands—like Galactic’s—the music should be enough, perhaps more so than in any other genre. Funk should be a genre with no press releases, no superstars, absolutely no interviews, and a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy concerning the particulars of each band’s secret recipe. Studio albums should be contractual obligations to be grudgingly fulfilled between gigs, not personal statements for reviewers to dissect. There should be no funk reviews. There should just be funk, without any words to complicate it. Galactic plays the Wilma Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 21, with special guests Signal Path. Doors open at 7. Show starts at 8.