Deepfunkun - Private Blue


Private Blue is the first proper release from Deepfunkun, a funk band centered around vocalist Suruga Ayumu and vocalist/beatmaker Abe Yuusei. Sounds all very straightforward, except the music is anything but. Just check out the member lineup on their homepage, which includes a rather Japanese looking "Justin Timberlake," Obi-Wan Kenobi and Thor. It appears that the various members have particular tendencies, for instance Suruga is the funk guy, Saki is the R&B girl, Abe is the techno guy, “Taro” is a jazz YouTuber. I don't know exactly what old Obi-Wan and Thor are bringing to the table, but the result is a very unique mix of everything. Not sure if geniuses, crazy, or just playing for laughs. (Most likely all of the above).

On Private Blue we have the requisite soul jams like “Blue” and “脳内ファンタジー” with the lovely dynamic of layered male and female vocals, but you also get songs like “All My Love” which brings the 70’s superfly funk with the deep vocals, crowd noises and falsetto and “光” which channels the 80’s with its synth bass line and keyboard licks, complete with Jane Fonda style workout video. Then you get “Summer,” which has a hip-hop beat and somewhat menacing bass line, but the rap verses talk about the most mundane things – drinking whisky and cheap beer, eating spare ribs and ice pops, grandma’s bag, going to the home center, getting turned on by foreign models on Instagram. Because that’s what summer is really about. The track samples their own singing, filtered so its like a 60’s soul record, but it switches over so you end up hearing a different song. The collective mindset is most apparent though on “saigo no aishiteru” where you have digital production with clipped beats and effects reminiscent of Towa Tei or Parkgolf but with organic soul singing, a spoken word/rap breakdown and more.

Some might think it’s a bit all over the place, but I love that they’re not taking themselves too seriously. On “Private Blue” they’ve managed to come up with something creative and original that is more than the sum of the parts, retaining a strong musical quality without descending into parody or kitsch. And in this environment where we are constantly bombarded with news that is either sad, bad or fake, sometimes it’s good to just lighten the funk up and let the soul take you to another place.

01. Really Fresh
02. Blue
03. 光 
04. Summer feat. BIG-RE-MAN
05. saigo no aishiteru
06. All My Love
07. 脳内ファンタジー

Royce Leong