Wax Poetics: “Ah, that Funk Factory is crazy! And talk about rare!”
An exquisite slice of psychedelic jazz-funk, Funk Factory was criminally overlooked upon release but became a crate-diggers classic over time. Yes, the LP is most famous for containing the peerless dusty groove of “Rien Ne Va Plus”, heavily lifted by the Beastie Boys for their Paul’s Boutique standout “Car Thief”. Yes, you’d be correct to assume said gem is worthy of the price of admission alone. Yet, to those in the know, Funk Factory represents so much more than a Dust Brothers sample-source. Indeed, the entire album represents a space-aged opus, featuring tripped-out keys, tight drums and baked synths; all laced by Urszula Dudziak’s ethereal vocals drifting around the exceptional instrumentation.
Funk Factory were boldly led by brilliant Polish violinist and saxophonist Michal Urbaniak and vocalist Dudziak. Two additional, accomplished Polish musicians were involved: virtuoso keyboardist Wlodek Gulgowski and singer Bernard Kafka, founder and leader of great Polish vocal group Novi Singers. To augment this solid foundation, a sensational American rhythm section was assembled, with bassists Anthony Jackson and Tony Levin, drummers Steve Gadd and Gerald Brown and guitarists Barry Finnerty and John Abercrombie.
Legend has it that Urbaniak created this seminal record in response to his American colleagues’ claims that Eastern European musicians were not “funky”. Funk Factory demonstrates that Urbaniak and his cohorts could play funk as well as any American musician. As sophisticated and multi-layered as the best of the genre, it deserves to be as canonical as the greatest works of Herbie Hancock and George Duke. Accomplished and utterly unique, this intoxicating blend of crack musicians created an irresistibly heady dose of transportive funk that sounds every bit as vital today as it would have in 1975.
Original copies are prohibitively expensive so this officially licensed 180g version enables a wider audience to now discover its genius. Dovetailing neatly with the recent interest in forgotten Eastern European grooves, this timely release of a true lost treasure is sure to be one of the year’s essential vinyl reissues.