Bursting on the scene in 2019 with a flurry of 45s that raised interest among aficionados of the genre as well as questions about their origins, the Diasonics have revealed themselves to be a tightly knit, five-piece funk band based in the big village of Moscow. Dubbing their style “hussar funk,” they blend deep cinematic instrumentals with Eastern European melodicism and boom-bap rhythms, always with a touch of lingering psychedelia. As befits firm fans of the recording techniques of the late ’60s and early ’70s, their debut album, Origin of Forms—premiering on Wax Poetics below—was recorded on half-inch tape on an eight-track Otari MX-5050 MKIII at the Diasonics’ own Magnetone Studio in Moscow and was mixed by Henry Jenkins (the Cactus Channel / Karate Boogaloo) in Melbourne. Members Maxim Brusov (bass guitar), Anton Katyrin (percussion), and Daniil Lutsenko (electric guitar) let us in on nine of their favorite inspirations and the reasons why these tunes resonate with the Slavic soul slingers.
Idris Muhammad “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This”
Daniil: This monumental disco-funk brainchild of a jazz drummer has been wandering in the playlists of DJs and connoisseurs of soul and funk from one decade to another from 1977 to the present day. The composition has a soft and deep sound that encourages sensual dancing and creates the mood of “the best party of your life.” The surprising thing about this disco-funk song is that it doesn’t use a snare drum.
Isaac Hayes “Driving in the Sun”
Daniil: A very cinematic composition with a rich development that swings in mood from slightly disturbing to sunny positivity. It’s hard not to mention the work of guitarist Charles “Skip” Pitts, who assumes the lead in the track—real storytelling on the guitar!
New Mastersounds “Idle Time” (Lack of Afro Remix)
Daniil: These bands are certainly some of the brightest representatives of modern funk, a style based on the basics laid in the ’70s. This track immediately catches the ear with its Hammond organ part, which sounds very similar to one of Quincy Jones’s most sampled records. The rest of the arrangement is a proven classic—everything is quite simple, but with taste and groove and on top of a smooth vocal, which tells a story that reaches its climax at the end of the track.
Giorgio Gaslini “Tema Della Purificazione”
Anton: This chic soundtrack combines exotic instruments and European melodicism straight from the ’70s. A very unusual listening experience for an evening walk through frosty Moscow.
Luis Bacalov “Samba”
Anton: Another great soundtrack from another great composer, this time from the ’60s. Also has the cutest melody with the use of a harpsichord and a Latin American rhythm pattern, which is clear from the name.
Anton: I couldn’t leave out this soundtrack. Although maybe it’s not exactly correct to call it a soundtrack, because the movie itself did not actually exist. A mood of great mystery and polished stylization, that’s what distinguishes the whole album.
Al Foster Band “The Night of the Wolf”
Maxim: This track, which was included in the soundtrack for the b-boy movie Battle of the Year, made a strong impression on me in the early 2000s. A cool intro with a howl of a wolf leads to a powerful main theme featuring flute, acoustic guitar, a funk pulse—stylish cinematic funk and the perfect soundtrack for breaking. Of course, I thought for a long time that it was the band of jazz drummer Al Foster, and I could not understand why they recorded only one track with such a funky break sound. Later, I found out that two Italian musicians, Alberto Fossati and Oscar Prudente, are hiding behind the name Al Foster Band. One of my favorite Euro-funk tracks that has shaped my tastes in many ways.
Sovremennik Orchestra “Hello Sovremennik!”
Maxim: This is one of the first tracks of pure Soviet funk that I ever heard. I was very surprised by the sound: a real fat groove with a bass guitar in the foreground, and at the same time sounding especially… Well, this is how Soviet funk released on the Russian label Melodiya sounds! It’s a positive, bright composition in mood, similar to the classic funk of the ’60s, in many ways similar to the previous track by Al Foster Band. The Sovremennik—or Contemporary—Orchestra is the jazz ensemble of Anatoly Kroll, one of the first jazz ensembles in the USSR to perform jazz-funk on electric instruments.
Quarteto Em Cy “Tudo Que Você Podia Ser”
Maxim: Amazing Brazilian music performed by a female vocal quartet. Melodic funk tropicália with a flute, a bright groove, and percussion that takes you somewhere far away—to hot sunny lands where everyone is always smiling, singing, and dancing. One of those tracks that improves the mood from the very first notes sung by this wonderful group.