Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Album Review: Earthology-Whitefield Brothers

Earthology, the long-awaited sophomore album from The Whitefield Brothers out January 2010 on Now Again Records, represents the next chapter in the largely untold funky saga of Jan and Max Whitefield. Their debut LP, In The Raw, was an underground classic celebrated by those who heard it as one of the most intensely funky records recorded in the last twenty years. Earthology picks up where In The Raw left off, and goes in an entirely new direction.

Jan and Max Whitefield are more widely recognized as founding members of The Poets of Rhythm, German recording artists on the Daptone roster. They traveled from their native Munich to New York to record In The Raw in 2001. They used stripped down funk grooves combined with traditional African music samples to foster an irresistibly funky sound. Almost as soon as the record was cut (featuring now legendary funk revivalists Neal Sugarman, Gabe Roth, and Leon Michels of the El Michels Affair) it was out of print and all but forgotten. That is until Now Again Records re-issued and re-introduced the record to the world in 2006.

Now in 2010, The Whitefield Brothers have returned to continue on their funky mission. This time around they’re looking past Africa for their inspiration, sampling sounds, time signatures and instruments from everywhere from Indonesia to Ehtiopia. They also widen their approach to include hip-hop verses from MC’s like Percee P, MED, Mr. Lif, and Edan. Other guests include El Michaels Affair and Quantic.

While the same distorted funk sound is definitely present on this record, fans of In The Raw should not expect the same theme to be continued. This record is something different, the next step in the Whitefield Brothers’ progression. They take their raw funky dissonance to the next level on Earthology, expanding their horizon to include sounds and influences from new places and cultures. If you dug In The Raw, you’ll dig Earthology; just don’t expect more of the same.

Whitefield In Paris from MASSCORPORATION.COM on Vimeo.

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