During the mid to late ’00s, Max Whitefield was in deep study: after spending five years with Krautrock legends and “world music” pioneers Embryo on a 500 concert European and African bus tour, he visited South East Asia, where he studied classical Burmese Saing Waing music. This trip was followed by a time in London, living and playing with fellow Now-Again artists the Heliocentrics. He studied with former Sun Ra Arkestra members in the USA before, in 2010, taking his first trip to Ghana, the deciding point to create his Philophon label. And to record all the music for his Ghanaian counterparts, Max formed a new Berlin-based band, The Polyversal Souls. The city’s vital music scene gave him the chance to bring together excellent musicians with a common passion and interest for sounds from all around the world. Out now, the Polyversal Souls’ debut album Invisible Joy – a manifest of what Max calls “21st century soul power.”
This is the first official reissue of Pazazz’s deep disco two sider, originally released as an obscure, promotional-only 7” single in South Florida circa 1980. And, while it took nearly two years, this 12” contains the excellent Kenny Dope’s remixes of both tracks. Naturally, Kenny brought the funkiest parts of each track to the fore and, while they’re DJ friendly, they’re now our preferred way to listen to these tunes. – check out his take on “So Hard To Find,” below.
We’re using this as an excuse to relaunch our Soul Cal series (though fans of our physical releases will note that there was a Soul Cal logo on the Split Decision Band 7″ we recently issued). Hopefully we’ll have more of these types of records to reissue in the future.
Ethiopian jazz/funk legend Hailu Mergia’s “Musical Silt” was one of the pinnacles of 70s Ethiopian music, a cornerstone in the Ethiopiques series and was recently reissued on its original album by Awesome Tapes From Africa. But it’s creator hasn’t released new music in thirty years – until now. This, his first set of new recordings in three decades, find that he hasn’t missed a beat since leaving the recording sphere. The pair of he and Philophon’s Max Whitefield (drums/producer) couldn’t be better and this 45 reflects Philophon’s overarching philosophy: to put on vinyl something precious that it makes you forget time and space and leaves you alone with the only thing that matters: awesome music. Buy here.
The Pyramids and their multi-instrumentalist leader Idris Ackamoor have revived the burning fire behind three lauded privately pressed 1970s albums and the movement that followed. The Pyramids’ honest love for music, their firm belief in its social impact have shaped their story and style: after studying with free-jazz icon Cecil Taylor, the Pyramids left for a journey through Africa in 1972 where they connected with their cultural roots and developed their own musical vision. On “Rhapsody in Berlin” their vision is still bright and unclouded: a melodic horn theme interplays with a Pygmy flute, driving guitar riffs and heavy funk rhythms. Co-produced by Ackamoor and drummer Max Whitefield. Buy here.
Roy X (ne Jimmy Taylor) is the youngest son of Ghanaian Highlife/Afrobeat legend Ebo Taylor. His inherited rhythm spills into his rapping and on this 7″ he raps over music created by Philophon label boss/producer Max Whitefield. On “Oduyewu” he pays respect to the timeless sound his father created; on “Sakawa” he meanders through dream-time, helped along by a Whitefield Brothers sample interwoven into the live music bed. Buy here.
Guy One, the most famous voice of the Frafra people in northern Ghana, is a super star among his people. He sings while playing the Kologo, an ancient two stringed banjo, mostly for traditional occasions. His words always have a strong meaning which gives him the attribute of a singing philosopher. For his Philophon debut, he teamed up with drummer/producer Max Weissenfeldt, to meld Max’s deep grooves with a haunting choir of Frafra soul. Buy here.
Above and below – two short films captured by Grace Oh and her team at Fabiano do Nascimento’s Dança dos Tempos release party at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. On site – Brasilian percussion legend Airto Moreira who played with Fabiano on the studio album. More info on the project in our earlier post here.
If you’ve not heard this band’s wondrous music yet, you can download a track here – and watch a video clip of the performance of the same song on the WGBH Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop program, which aired for an unbelievable season in the early 1970s. Imagine being a kid on that show. C’mon now.