the whitefield brothers - earthology - now again - cdNA 5047CD - 52678 - uscd - €16.50
Genre: Funk / Soul
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Earthology is the latest album from The Whitefield Brothers, a loose line up of musicians centred on the siblings Jan ‘JJ’ and Max ‘Muggy’ Whitefield, formerly known as the founders of Munich’s legendary Poets Of Rhythm. Last heard from with their cult 2001 debut In The Raw (reissued this year on Now-Again Records), Earthology finds the brothers blending In The Raw’s rough funk – ‘raw soul’, in their terminology – with a broader eye on music from around the globe, sending them in a rich new direction with infinite possibilities
That ‘patchwork’ involves a multitude of different guests from from far and wide, including vocalists Edan, Mr. Lif, Bajka, Percee P and MED, and musicians from the Antibalas, El Michels Affair, Quantic, Express Brass Band and the Dap-Kings. They joined the duo’s group in experimental sessions taking place in New York, Munich and Berlin.
To achieve the album’s unique sound, the brothers employed an incredible array of instruments and put in a huge amount of research. The whole album is rooted in soul music but they combined common instruments with unusual ones such as gongs and flutes from Asia (Alin), xylophones and string instruments from Africa (Safari Strut, Sem Yelesh) as well as central American percussion instruments (Ntu) to add new colours to their music. The use of African polyrhythms (Ntu) and Arabic rhythmical structures (Chich), African pentatonic scales (Sad Nile) and oriental modes (Pamukkale) set those instruments in the right context.
In The Raw pre-dated today’s soul revival by nearly a decade, although it never saw great sales: the record quickly went out of print and the Soul-Fire label folded. Until the recent reissue The Whitefield Brothers’s debut album, regarded as a masterpiece by those lucky enough to have heard it, was a highly desired collectors item which provided an inspiring spark for today’s funk scene. The incredible and ambitious Earthology looks certain to set that record straight.