Now-Again partners with Max Whitefield (Poets of Rhythm/Whitefield Brothers drummer) and his Philophon imprint – 1st Polyversal Souls LP coming July 3rd. Read more/stream a track below.
Max Whitefield (née Weissenfeldt) may have taken his drums across the world, but he’s never lost sight of his first love, the starting point of a carrier that lead to phenomenal collaborations (take Dr. John and Lana Del Rey’s recent albums, produced by Max’s uber-fan, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach). That passion has propelled albums as varied as Poets of Rhythm’s Discern/Define and Whitefield Brothers Earthology. It comes as a pulse: the raw, funky beat Max first heard on old 45s his compatriots, including older Whitefield Brother Jan, played to him in the early 90s, well before most anyone cared for that obscure wax. Mind you – this was in his parents’ basement in Munich, Germany.
Late ’60s funk and soul was the inspiration for the Poets of Rhythm, the first band in which Max played drums. Barely teenagers, the Poets kickstarted a movement: without them, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Aloe Blacc and Mayer Hawthorne – to name their most recent converts – would not be the internationally recognized names they are.
In the early ’00s, the Poets of Rhythm issued Discern/Define, which indicated a marked growth, and a sophisticated approach to funk music, meshed with Krautrock’s untempered experimentalism and the Whitefield Brothers issued In The Raw, an Afro-psychedelic trip grounded by funk’s principles. Though the Poets of Rhythm would never record again, The Whitefield Brothers issued Earthology, the pinnacle of their worldly, musical explorations and then spun apart – Jan to long-standing Now-Again artists Karl Hector and the Malcouns, and Max to his Philophon imprint, those Auerbach-collaborations and the Polyversal Souls.
During the mid to late ’00s, Max 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 the 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. And now, Polyversal Souls’ debut album Invisible Joy – a manifest of what Max calls “21st century soul power.”
The album’s first track “Yelle Be Bobre” features Ghanaian griot Guy One on vocals the Kologo can be streamed below. The album – and more releases and information about Max’s musical journey – is to come.