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Avant-funk is a music style in which artists combine funk rhythms with an avant-garde or art rock mentality.[2] Its heyday occurred in the late 1970s among post-punk acts who embraced black dance styles.[3]


Critic Simon Reynolds described avant-funk as "difficult dance music" and a kind of psychedelia in which "oblivion was to be attained not through rising above the body, rather through immersion in the physical, self loss through animalism."[2] Simon Frith described avant-funk as an application of progressive rock mentality to rhythm rather than melody and harmony.[2] Some motifs of the style in the 1970s and 1980s included "Eurodisco rhythms; synthesizers used to generate not pristine, hygienic textures, but poisonous, noisome filth; Burroughscut-up technique applied to found voices."[2]


Talking Heads combined funk with elements of punk and art rock.

Early acts who have retrospectively been described with the term include German krautrock band Can,[4] American funk artists Sly Stone and George Clinton,[5] and jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.[6]

According to Reynolds, a pioneering wave of avant-funk artists came in the late 1970s,[7] when post-punk artists (including Public Image Ltd, Liquid Liquid, and James Chance,[8] as well as Cabaret Voltaire, Talking Heads, The Pop Group, D.A.F., A Certain Ratio, and 23 Skidoo)[9] embraced black dance music styles such as funk and disco.[3] Reynolds noted these artists' preoccupations with issues such as alienation, repression and the technocracy of Western modernity.[2] The artists of the late 1970s New York no wave scene also explored avant-funk, influenced by figures such as Ornette Coleman.[1]

Later groups such as Skinny Puppy, Chakk, 400 Blows represented later waves of the style.[7] By the mid 1980s, it had dissipated, with many of its practitioners becoming a part of the UK's first wave of house music.[9] Avant-funk would go on to influence '90s drum and bass producers such as 4hero and A Guy Called Gerald.[10]

List of artists[edit]


  1. ^ a b Murray, Charles Shaar (October 1991). Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix & The Post-War Rock 'N' Roll Revolution. Macmillan. p. 205. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Reynolds, Simon (February 13, 1987). "End of the Track". New Statesman. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. Penguin.
  4. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon (1995). "Krautrock Reissues". Melody Maker. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Staff. "Passings". Billboard (116). Nielsen. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  6. ^ Gluckin, Tzvi. "Forgotten Heroes: Pete Cosey". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Reynolds, Simon (2001). "23 Skidoo: Seven Songs, Urban Gamelan". Uncut. Retrieved 20 March 2017.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ http://www.popmatters.com/.../the-50-best-post-punk-albums-ever-p...
  9. ^ a b c d e f Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. pp. 20, 202. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  10. ^ Staff (February 1995). "Return Of The Gerald". Mixmag (45).
  11. ^ Staff (Feb 6, 1995). "Clubland". New York Magazine. 28 (6): 80.