Whitefield Brothers, The

Earthology [Soul, Funk, R'n'B]

RELEASE: 29.01.2010

LABEL: Now again

VERTRIEB: Groove Attack

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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” (re-issued 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.

Though most of the music was recorded in the last few years, some of it was even made up to 15 years ago, representing an incredibly long-ranging musical project. "The idea behind “Earthology” is multiplicity, a patchwork of sounds and ideas", say the brothers.

That ‘patchwork’ involves a multitude of different guests 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. They learned a lot about the serious integration of diverse musical traditions from the world music pioneers Embryo, who are also based in their hometown of Munich, and listened intensely to countless numbers of field recordings from all over the world to understand the different languages in their musical structures and inner meanings. Max went even to Burma to study the traditional Saing Waing music and joined, back in Berlin, the Gamelan group of Gutama Soegijo to deepen his skills in south-east Asian music.

“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’ 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.

Whitefield Brothers live in Europa:

  • 18.11.09 D-Aachen, Jakobshof
  • 19.11.09 NL-Mechelen, Moonshack
  • 20.11.09 CH-Zürich, Stall 6
  • 21.11.09 D-Köln, King Georg
  • 22.11.09 D-Frankfurt, Hazelwood Vinyl Plastics

(Quelle: Groove Attack, 2009)


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