by Hobey Echlin
Listening to Le Funk, it’s hard to believe its makers were once an avant-noise band from the inbred Louisville, Ky., indier-than-thou scene — which is why Le Funk is as intriguing as it is good. The story goes that VHS or Beta, tired of the self-exiled indie pretension of its name (which inspired a debut release of the band’s angular art rock, esoterically enough, on actual VHS tape), decided the most punk thing it could do was turn into a Daft Punk tribute band of sorts.
With its filtered funk and minor-chord stabs, Le Funk is an obvious homage to the French neo-disco house sound of five years ago; in fact this may be the first time a band has taken its inspiration from DJ mixes. In Le Funk’s case, tracks break down and re-emerge phoenixlike out of the filter froth like Dmitri from Paris spinning at the Playboy Mansion.
But minus any discernable irony and with twin guitars and New Order electronic drums weaving a kinetic disco that mixes post-rock chops without out-muscling the good-time whirl of it all, the VHSers come off like a gay Tortoise or the Bee Gees as Peter Frampton might have imagined them. That’s a compliment; they’re guitar heroes with the inspiration to give it up for the cause of throwing down. At just six songs, it’s hard to tell if Le Funk is meant to be anything more than a sampler of post-rock taken straight to the 4 a.m. dance floor. But there are live tracks here, including “Teen Dancefloor,” where the band seems capable of working the ebb and flow of a deep house mix into a single song as anthemic and as fey as any ’80s New Order summertime hit. With them, Le Funk makes the case that VHS or Beta doesn’t need to hang out at a club till 4 a.m. to reach peak-hour intensity.
E-mail Hobey Echlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.