Album: The Whitefield Brothers, Earthology (Now-Again)

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The Independent Culture

For this belated follow-up to their 2001 debut "In The Raw", the Munich-based Whitefield siblings Jan and Max have broadened their funk-soul approach with a range of African influences, albeit heavier, big-band flavours than those employed by Vampire Weekend.

Drafting in members of Antibalas, Quantic and The Dap-Kings to give their sound a horn-based ballast, they've produced in Earthology a sort of world-jazz-groove album whose blend of camel-walk rhythms, burring saxes and spacey organ and electric piano resembles the more Afrocentric entries in Sun Ra's varied back-catalogue. Rappers such as Mr Lif and Edan pop up to offer commentaries like "this source of rhythm is what the soul is for"; but they're really just a distraction from the eclectic instrumental work, which ranges from the stately processionals of horns, organ and marimba in "Sem Yelesh", "Sad Nile" and "Safari Strut", which recall the North African jazz of Mahmoud Ahmed and Abdel Aziz El Mubarak, to the Fela-style highlife of "Lullaby For Lagos" and the snake-charmer double-reed tones of Middle Eastern-tinged pieces such as "Pamukkale". Like Sun Ra, the Whitefields acknowledge the primacy of percussion in their grooves.

Download this Sem Yelesh; Sad Nile; Safari Strut; Pamukkale; Joyful Exaltation