Terrestrial Funk is a label from the US who I first picked up through a comment on a dodgy youtube rip of Lang Cook’s Liberty City Jam, a rare-as-hen’s-teeth funk fusion record that I had been praying to see reissued. Hope came in the form of Terrestrial Funk, who said they’d be dropping a press the following year. Delivering the goods right from the beginning.
Just announced this morning is their latest unearthing, a decade of Armenian disco, funk, and soul from the post-genocide generation Armenian diaspora of the 1970s. These are surprisingly big sounds, with intelligent beats, dancefloor soul and electric production that sounds funky fresh in 2020. Chief digger Darone Sassounian spent three years on a track-and-trace mission to find the original artists, ‘fulfilling a calling to lift his people’s voice, a people that have always faced the threat of erasure’.
You have to love the sound of moody Caucausus keys segueing blissfully into starry-eyed disco frills, best of all without sounding gimmicky, derivative or awkward. This is inspired music taking hip Western sounds and bringing them into an Armenian sphere.
Some tracks take cues from Anatolian Psych Rock stylings of the mid-60s, (Harout Pamboukjian’s ‘Taparoum Enk (We’re Wandering’), laying fast percussion over Pink Floyd wah and folk-rock chords, others from low-slung AOR and Italian beach music (Avo Haroutounian’s ‘Tears On My Eyes’).
It’s not even that buying this comp will save you a lot of money – these records aren’t really about otherwise to spend your dosh on. Terrestrial Funk delivering the goods.
At a time when Armenia sees themselves in an existential struggle against their neighbours in the Caucausus, the culmination of Darone Sassounian’s three years of work is prescient.
Pre-order Silk Road: Journey of the Armenian Diaspora 1971-1982 at Terrestrial Funk, dropping in February 2021.