When funk master George Clinton shed his dreads and most of his unruly whiskers a few years back, his signature party-starting sound began to lose its way. Last year, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” introduced the P-Funk groove to a new generation without educating recruits to the legacy artists or evolving the aesthetic. Instead, they were happy to literally borrow the vibes of The Gap Band and throw on some infectious lyrics for today’s Top 40 aficionados to hum along to.

Pasadena’s Damon Garrett Riddick, aka Dâm-Funk, hasn’t been as callous with his handling of the genre, encapsulating the spirit of the sound first established by the likes of Bootsy Collins. “Funk is the absence of any and everything you can think of, but the very essence of all that is,” Collins once asserted. “And saying that, I’m saying funk is anything that we create in our minds that we want to do, what we want to be, but we don’t have the resources.”

That definition is initially difficult to grasp, and so is the totality of Invite the Light. At 20 tracks and 96 minutes in length, Riddick’s third solo full-length has ample room for multiple sonic experiments and collaborations. Other compilations might feature more names, but few 2015 releases challenge Invite the Light on pure artist eclecticism; Flea, Q-Tip, Nite Jewel and Ariel Pink are just a few of the talents that bring their unique flair to the collection. Unlike the copy-and-paste mentality of Ronson and Mars, this assortment highlights the influence that funk has had over the past four decades.

The Q-Tip showcase “I’m Just Tryna Survive” and Snoop Dogg’s verses on “Just Ease Your Mind From All Negativity” are throwback examples of narrative G-Funk, a slow burning style that Compton-based contemporary YG has twisted into darker, more volatile territories. Riddick is comfortable stepping into this bleakness throughout the album. Without a lyrical backing, “The Hunt & Murder of Lucifer” hits like a club track ripped from the crates of the growing legion of international G-house and bassline DJs. The nu-disco stylings of “O.B.E” are also a nice inclusion for these mid-tempo selectors.

Featuring both Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea and the perpetually under-appreciated Computer Jay, “Floating on Air” is a beautifully bluesy endeavor that is as buoyant as the name implies. Over its seven minute duration, Flea and multi-instrumentalist Riddick have a casual back-and-forth before the electronics begin to take flight just past the two-minute mark. Just as Thundercat adds tangible elements to the celestial jazz-fusion arrangements of Flying Lotus, Flea’s bass serves as a guide through the uplifting wanderings of Riddick and Computer Jay. After a few more minutes, this jam-tronica track challenges the authority of STS9 and the Disco Biscuits.

When the experimental waves of Ariel Pink and Riddick coalesce during “Acting,” the result nearly overwhelms the listener with overlaid psychedelia. Beats never seem to come or go, but just build until they become constrained within their own forces. This spiraling becomes so dense, one begins to wonder if another source of audio has invaded the album.

“Junie’s Transmission” and “HowUGonFu*kAroundandChooseABusta?” hint at a more grandiose concept album, but that never truly develops across the marathon listening session. Nonetheless, Invite the Light is a pivotal recording in the funk canon: — a 20-track album that follows in the trenches established by his predecessors. Without succumbing to nostalgia, Dâm-Funk has created new in-roads for 21st century producers to continue and evolve the limitless ideals of funk.

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