Rollergirl (or Rollergirl!, either way, but for the sake of ease I'm gonna drop that exclamation mark, sorry) is from the USA and makes wonderful music. My first taste of this fun-filled breed of music was the Rollergirl remix of Summer Twins' year-old track 'Forget Me', treating the original with a healthy drop of fuzzy funk stylings. Well, now there's a whole EP to enjoy.
The cutely titled I Love You, Rollergirl! EP inhabits that addictive zone of music called future funk; if you know what it is, then whatever, good for you, but if you don't, well… it's not so much futuristic as remodelled cuts of classic funk, soul and disco, blent into gorgeous cocktails of sound with all the accoutrements of modern day production to benefit the style. This is where Rollergirl seems to thrive.
But as this EP shows, it's not just straight up slow-down samples and muffled edits; each track is instead a variation on that overarching theme. Take the particularly punchy 'Do You Wanna Dance?', for instance – it is a huge track, featuring all the gigantic energy of carnival tracks, with syncopated percussion dropping in and out with the aggressive call of samba whistles like the cry of some dance-obsessed creature. Then you have something quite different in the slow sway of 'Eve' (featuring the talent of Chicagoan musicmaker, Harris Cole), where in the second half 80s synths filter through a foundational membrane of stuttering slap-bass – a mystical, nocturnal kind of sound.
For the most part, however, Rollergirl's EP booms with disco intensity. 'I Love You' is an especially good example of this; beginning with a sample taken from dialogue in the classic film Dirty Dancing ("I'm scared of everything..."), its sharp hi-hats swish above a frenzy-inducing two note bassline, intense loops leading to more and different intense loops towards the end, funk guitar hatching its undeniable groove all the way. In much the same vein, second track 'Vanilla Coke' rattles along with the raucous sound of racing hi-hats, a clattering example of disco, injected with dynamism by creating bassless voids with old-car-radio-esque tinniness, then flooding these with French-Touch-style bass, working the muscles in your ears to a surprisingly satisfying degree.
Pop hooks show themselves throughout, like in EP-closer 'Last Night', whose shivering chops of guitar jump in aching, catchy melody, providing a mesmerising mist that hangs over lightly overdriven bulges of bass; in the last quarter or so of this track it jumps into a slower rhythm, somehow becoming even more addictive. And of course, in opener 'Boogie Down' – which begins with a snippet of dialogue from 1979 film Roller Boogie – this catchiness extends from the disco-ball sheen of the chords and its supporting bassline, to the vocals supplied by Rollergirl himself, singing "Live it up, live it up!" … and personally I think this has in it snippets of Toro y Moi-style chillwave. But the style of chillwave in general included nods to many genres of music, including funk; perhaps future funk is merely a natural offshoot of this particular sound. Maybe not. You discuss it yourselves.
God, um, well that's it really. Can be chilled to, can be danced to; can be engaged with, can be background sound. I Love You, Rollergirl! is nostalgic deep pan pizza of sound; totally doughy and heavy with delicious beats, but still featuring the tomato-and-pepperoni zing of exciting chops and near-virtuosic versatility. And it's yet another sterling release from undeniably cool label/collective, KEATS//COLLECTIVE.
- You can actually download this for free because Rollergirl is such a nice guy
- And could this be the inspiration for the Rollergirl moniker…?
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