Vaporwave producer Windmill drops his fourth project of July, a pulse-pounding crash-course into future funk.
Part of the mystique around future funk stems from its timelessness. The genre only dates back to the 2010s, but its musical influences arrived decades earlier. An outgrowth of the vaporwave movement, which saw internet producers flipping samples into downtempo, nostalgia-driven tunes befitting the intercom system of your local mall, future funk is an uptempo swing that brings the headnodic bounce of city pop, disco and funk to the 21st Century.
The genres are visibly different — future funk tends to draw from pastel and neon colored accessories like flamingos, anime and laser shows, while vaporwave favors the deconstruction of computer generated graphics and the random statue of David. But sonically, the two overlap, with plenty of producers swaying between the sounds effortlessly.
Windmill is one of the latest artists to take his talents to the cross section of vaporwave and future funk, dropping their album 19 Days and 500 Nights on July 13. The album is a stellar primer into the world of future funk, that features seamless blending between tracks, samples old and new, and the unrelenting four on the floor beat that plops disco into a new age.
July has been a busy month for Windmill. He has dropped four full length projects, teetering between the strata of future funk, vaporwave, hip-hop, and a VGM soundtrack. While Essentials Vol. 1 offers the best look at Windmill’s technical prowess (that collection was produced entirely void of samples), 19 Days and 500 Nights is a crash course in sampling. Too often future funk artists are guilty of cannibalizing the same sounds. Listen long enough and you are bound to run across multiple flips of Mariya Takeuchi, Takako Mamiya, Anri or Earth, Wind and Fire.
Briefly, Windmill wears these influences too. On “distant lover,” he deploys the same Winfield Parker “I Wanna Be With You” sample that Yung Bae re-worked on Skyscraper Anonymous. As much as Windmill’s track is a reminder of six degrees of separation between future funk artists, it also serves as a playground for 19 Days’s staples, like chopping a vocal sample into a melodic stutter and using high pass filters that leave room for Windmill’s driving bass.
Windmill’s sampling skills become even more apparent on “I’m out of my mind.” The album’s fifth track finds its sweet spot by flipping the hook on the Gap Band’s 1982 hit “Outstanding,” which appeared on the group’s platinum-selling album Gap Band IV. But where the original cut’s vocals stole the show, Windmill plays up the sample’s hollow percussion further steering his flip towards an inescapably funky bounce.
What’s more is Windmill’s sonic diversity. Though each track blends effortlessly into the next, they do so calling on a variety of musical influences. The Brazillian Marcos Valle’s “Estrellar” serves as the backdrop for “Marcos,” while French electronic outfit Daft Punk’s “Digital Love” pushes “Rock Tonight.” And when Windmill heads to Japan on “Tonight,” which draws from Hideki Saijo’s “Through the Night,” he does so by highlighting the horns, crafting a vibrant anthem that keeps the album alive well into its track list.
Future funk albums rarely overstay their welcome, and 19 Days and 500 Nights is no exception. Over a quick-hitting 16 tracks, Windmill produces a passion project that would light up a dance floor — if the coronavirus hadn’t already cleared them out. And while the album might not last anywhere near 500 nights, Windmill’s tight loops and pulse pounding beats are ripe for a never ending summer.