Announcing: Karl Hector & The Malcouns “Coomassi” EP

Now-Again | Mar. 26, 2014 | News | ,

Coming 05.06 – Third and final limited edition vinyl EP by the world-psych-funk ensemble; original artwork by Kevin Lyons, screenprinted by Anti Designs. Download a free MP3 now!

For all intents and purposes, Karl Hector might as well be another nom-de-plume of Jay Whitefield (producer and guitarist for the Poets of Rhythm and the Whitefield Brothers) who, along with Thomas Myland and Zdenko Curlija, founded Karl Hector and The Malcouns in the early 2000s. Alongside Bo Baral, other members of the Poets of Rhythm and crack Munich-based session musicians, Whitefield, Myland and Curlija crafted nearly twenty tracks for their debut, Sahara Swing, an album that swung with influences from across the African diaspora.

The trio has since released two vinyl-only EPs – Tamanrasset was the first; Ngunga Yeti Fofa was the second. Coomassi will be the last, and is the opening volley of their Unstraight Ahead album, which will see release in Summer 2014. These seven songs demonstrate The Malcouns’ deft handling of musics from Eastern and Northern Africa alongside Western psychedelia, jazz and funk, as evidenced by “Irtijal,” which you can download below – something that wouldn’t sound out of place in Morocco or Turkey, Ethiopia or Azerbaijan.

Coomassi will be available to our subscribers at Now-Again Deluxe two weeks prior to the EP’s release date.

Download: “Irtijal”

Announcing: Heitkotter “Black Orckid”

Now-Again | Feb. 23, 2014 | News | ,

Restored/remastered transfer and never-before-heard demos. Extensive booklet contains dozens of unpublished photos and images and a thorough investigation into this exceedingly rare artifact. Out on 05.20.14.

Psychedelic rock record collectors have been repeating the name Heitkotter as if it were a mantra ever since the first copy of a hand-made demo LP turned up in a Los Angeles music publisher’s reject bin, with nothing more than that word scrawled across a plain white jacket.

The venerated record dealer Paul Major – he behind the “real people music” phenomena, and a wizard of deciphering lost and fuzzy sounds, capable of bringing them into a context that a lay-person might understand – lost a battle in his analysis of the LP in the early ’90s. His words still ring true today, as he calls Heitkotter a “banging garage downer LP from the twilight zone [with] wasted up-all-night vocal shrieks and mumblings… Totally fucked up sounding, drives me crazy within minutes.”

Now-Again Records embarked some years ago on what seemed like a fruitless crusade – to find out more about this Heitkotter, his music, his story. In the process, we’ve visited the house where this confounding album was recorded, found Heitkotter’s musicians, rescued the demo-recordings that paved the way for this album, uncovered unpublished photos and paintings by the man behind the album, and are now ready to present the definitive look into a musical vision equal parts dangerous and peaceful, nihilistic and optimistic. It’s safe to say the world has never heard something like Heitkotter – it is a unique piece of art unlike anything that came before or has come after it.

Stephen David Heitkotter was a Fresno, California kid who came of age in mid ’60s. He was the drummer for the Fresno garage wunderkinds the Road Runners, and even wrote a song for the band, ‘Pretty Me’, for one of their lauded 7-inch singles. Nobody really knows what happened after the band split up, victims – like many garage rock bands – of the Vietnam War draft.

Stephen never made it to Vietnam – some say his meeting with the draft board is when he first started showing signs of mental illness. He stayed in Fresno and became a bedraggled post hippie who left the Age of Aquarius defiantly proclaiming that he would become a singer, songwriter and visual artist: Black Orckid.

The bizarre LP known as Heitkotter – recorded in around 1971 and pressed in a run of less than twenty five copies – was culmination of his artistic career. Ross Dwelle, Stephen’s childhood friend and the drummer on the record, describes the bedroom sessions in a handsome Craftsman home in Old Fresno as this young trio “trying to play five songs written by a man losing his mind… probably stoned the whole time.”

Stephen’s schizophrenia worsened in the ’70s. Towards the end of the decade, his parents – loving yet exhausted – institutionalized Stephen, and he has been the State of California’s ward ever since. His older brother William – who licensed Heitkotter for release on Now-Again – still sees his Stephen once a month, but he never mentions Heitkotter or its legend to him – Stephen himself is incapable of fathoming it in context, and it might tear him away from the fragile rope that still moors him to this earthly reality.

Heitkotter, this time issued as Black Orckid, as we assume Stephen would have wanted it – is too complicated to be written off as a symptom of a greater ill, or lionized by a few (and dismissed by the majority) as “outsider” art. It’s a rare and vital look at 60s and 70s American rock through the sad story – and incredible music – of an untethered soul. And as we hope to show in enlightening more of Stephen’s backstory, it can also be considered sweet, kind and optimistic. The Heitkotter tale is cautionary, but Stephen’s music is as close to the sublime as American rock has ever ventured.

Win an autographed copy of Damon’s “Song of a Gypsy”

Now-Again | Feb. 21, 2014 | News |

Yesterday, the Now-Again offices were filled with sound and camera technicians, as filmmaker Andrew Gura interviewed Damon for a short film he’s producing around the landmark Song of a Gypsy album, which we reissued last year. We took the opportunity to get Damon to sign five copies of each format of our expanded reissue, and we’ll be holding a contest at Now-Again Deluxe. Starting tomorrow, ten subscribers who answer five Damon-related questions correctly will win a most-amazing keepsake. We run contests like this at Now-Again Deluxe periodically – the last time we did this, five winners received WITCH albums autographed by Emmanuel “Jagari” Chanda.

If you’ve been thinking of subscribing, now would be the time to do it!

More Info/Subscribe Now: Now-Again Deluxe at Drip.fm.
Buy: Song of a Gypsy on iTunes.

Egon’s Funk Archaeology at RBMA: Unsung Funk (and Rock!) Hero Robert Rozelle

Now-Again | Feb. 10, 2014 | Picks | ,

Linked below: Egon’s newest Funk Archaeology post at Red Bull Music Academy’s website, this time detailing the legacy of a true unsung musical hero, bassist Robert Rozelle. As you’ll read, Rozelle was not only the bassist for our very own Apple and the Three Oranges, but also for psych-rock ensemble Love and – if you believe our investigative work – Dyke and The Blazers, on tracks previously assumed to have been recorded by members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

The download this time around: Ed. “Apple” Nelson’s “I’ll Give You A Ring (When I Come, If I Come)”, Rozelle’s swan song and one of the most perfect soul songs of all time.

The New Series: Robert Rozelle – A True Unsung Musical Hero – Egon’s Funk Archaeology at Red Bull Music Academy.
The Old Series: Egon’s Funk Archaeology at NPR.
Download: Ed. Nelson “I’ll Give You A Ring (When I Come, If I Come)”

RIP – Highlighters and Rhythm Machine founder, funk bassist James Boone

Now-Again | Feb. 7, 2014 | News | ,

It’s with a heavy heart that we note the passing of Indianapolis born and bred funk and soul bassist and bandleader James Boone. Now-Again’s Egon first met Boone while researching the independently released soul and funk records that would form the basis of his Stones Throw Records anthology The Funky 16 Corners, first issued in 2001. Boone featured prominently on that album, from the title track by the Highlighters band to Spider Harrison’s “Beautiful Day” to “The Kick,” by his later outfit Rhythm Machine.

After Egon issued Rhythm Machine’s 7″ single “Brenda and Me/Put A Smile On Time” as an extended disco single on the Soul Cal series in 2003, he issued the Rhythm Machine’s self-titled 1976 album on Now-Again in 2004, from master tapes that Boone had maintained when he moved to Omaha, Nebraska in the late 70s. In 2012, Now-Again issued an expanded version of the album with bonus tracks that Boone recorded with the band in the late 70s before the band splintered following the death of member Maride Williams.

Though Boone had walked away from music following Williams’ passing – focusing instead on his Omaha publication Go Ahead Magazine, which he founded in the early 80s and maintained until his death and his barbecue restaurant Alexanders – he maintained a love an passion for real soul and funk, and immeasurably helped this label during over the past twelve years. We’re proud to have called James Boone our friend, are honored that he trusted us with his music and plan on never letting his legacy go silent. With that in mind, download one of our favorite Rhythm MAchine tracks below.

Download: Rhythm Machine “Put A Smile On Time.”

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