Announcing: Karl Hector and The Malcouns “Unstraight Ahead” Album

Coming 06.17 – The long awaited second album by the originators of Afrodelic Kraut Funk. Feat. members of Poets of Rhythm and Whitefield Brothers. Download a free MP3 now!

It’s been some years since the first Karl Hector release, and it’s known now that Mr. Hector is indeed the German producer and guitarist JJ Whitefield, ne Jan Weissenfeldt. Whitefield is the visionary behind the Poets of Rhythm and the Whitefield Brothers, the ensembles whose rough analog sound and return to the funk archetypes of the late 60s to early 70s paved the way for labels like Daptone, Truth & Soul, Timmion.

Whitefield, along with Thomas Myland and Zdenko Curlija, founded Karl Hector and The Malcouns in the early 2000s. Their debut, Sahara Swing, saw release on Now-Again in 2008. The album swung with influences from across the African diaspora and set the stage for a cult, but influential following. Hermes designer Christophe Lemaire picked tracks from Karl Hector and The Malcouns as amongst his favorites in the Now-Again catalog, and included them on his Where Are You From anthology. Festival promoters intrigued by the possibility of resurrecting the careers of once forgotten African mavericks – from Ghana’s Ebo Taylor to the progenitors of Zambia’s Zamrock scene – brought Hector and crew across Europe playing festivals for ecstatic fans.

A grueling tour schedule made recording a follow up album to Sahara Swing quite the challenge, and as a result, the band opted to release limited edition, hand-silkscreened EP’s, which continued to show their deft handling of musics from Eastern and Northern Africa alongside Western psychedelia, jazz and funk. Whitefield gave himself 2013 to finish the album that would become Unstraight Ahead, which will see release on Now-Again this summer.

Unstraight Ahead finds the band exploring territories even outside of the expansive scope of Sahara Swing. On this album, the West African sounds of Ghana and Mali meet the East African sounds of Mulatu Astatke’s Ethiopian jazz and are tied together with the groove heavy experimentalism of The Malcouns’ 70s Krautrock godfathers: Can, of course, but also more obscure and equally adventurous groups like Agitation Free, Ibliss and Tomorrow’s Gift.

“We look to Middle Eastern funk and psychedelic fusions, and to various ethnic records for sound and phrasing,” Whitefield states. “We’re trying to combine the global experimentalism of Krautrock with the backbeat of funk.” This explains how songs in uneven meters – 5/4, 7/8 – always sound so accessible and natural on Unstraight Ahead. It’s mainly an instrumental affair, but guest artists appear throughout, from across the African diaspora to those from the worldly Krautrock forebears of their German fatherland: it’s Marja, daughter of Embryo founder Christian Burchard, whose vocals open the album.

It’s an album out of time, one that couldn’t have been made in the era its aural aesthetics reference, as its scope is so broad. But it’s an album focused by funk – and an ambition to expand funk’s reaches. The Malcouns – including Poets of Rhythm songwriter and vocalist Bo Baral – created their own instruments to fashion an album that stands alongside the great albums of its progenitors but charges Unstraight Ahead into a curious musical future.

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

Download: “Push Na Ya”

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Photos/Audio: Zamrock Rehearsals – Jagari Chanda, Rikki Ililonga, Karl Hector & The Malcouns (Free MP3 Downloads!)

Late last year we mentioned that WITCH’s Emmanuel “Jagari” Chanda and Musi-O-Tunya founder Rikki Ililonga were readying to journey from Lusaka to Rennes to perform Zamrock live with Karl HEctor & The Malcouns at France’s Transmusicales Festival. Well the show went off – and it went off well. So well, in fact, that Jagari and Rikki are again traveling to France to perform at Espace Fraternite – Magic Mirror (Aubervilliers) – again with Karl Hector and crew.

So we’re showing you some rehearsal photos, shot by Denis Pernath at the Hector rehearsal space in Munich, and offering two downloads from the Transmusicales Festival below.

Download: Rikki Ililonga with Karl Hector & The Malcouns: Dark Sunrise (Live at Transmusicales 2013)
Download: Rikki Ililonga with Karl Hector & The Malcouns: Munzi Wa Kangwanda (Live at Transmusicales 2013)


By Popular Demand – “Original Raw Soul III” In A Deluxe Vinyl Package!

Original Raw Soul III, previously only available on CD, is now available as a limited edition 2LP and bonus 7″ packaged in a hand silk-screened chipboard sleeve. Limited to 500 pieces.

So many people asked us why Original Raw Soul III – the compendium featuring the collected recordings of the Poets of Rhythm/Whitefield Brothers/Karl Hector & The Malcouns collective and their multitude of side-projects – wasn’t available on vinyl that we took the remaining 500 copies of our Transgressors 7″, got our man Lewis Heriz to do some new artwork, and made 500 hand silkscreened jackets for the newly cut double album.

Get ’em while they last!

And, if you need a reminder of how great the music is on this album, remember – we gave away the TRansgressors’ “Money For Born Money For Die” earlier this year – we’ve reactivated that link, below.

Download: Transgressors “Money For Born Money For Die.”


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Karl Hector on Paris DJs

Yes, it’s hard for us to believe as well – the Paris DJs crew just launched their second Now-Again mix in one week: this time “Soul Sauvage D’Afrique” by Jay Whitefield aka Karl Hector. It’s an incredible mix and follows up Jay’s 2011 mix – “Jazz Modal Du Monde,” one of the most downloaded Paris DJs mixes – quite well.

Download: Karl Hector “Soul Sauvage D’Afrique” on Paris DJs.
More Information/tracklist: Karl Hector on Paris DJs

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Announcing: Original Raw Soul III album and Transgressors 7″ (with a free mp3)…

The collective that includes the Poets of Rhythm, Whitefield Brothers and Karl Hector & The Malcouns present a series of rare funk, jazz, soul and world-psych singles compiled as an album. Out NOW – worldwide.

It’s been nearly fifteen years since the vinyl-only releases by the various ensembles helmed by Jay and Max Whitefield – also known as the Whitefield Brothers and the nucleus of the revered Poets of Rhythm – were collated onto an Original Raw Soul album. The last – 1997’s More Original Raw Soul – largely contained the duo’s heavy funk and soul… well before the aughts’ Deep Funk revival that one could argue began with these two German siblings’ earliest recordings.

Fitting, then, that this – Original Raw Soul III – looks back at recordings dating back over twenty years but never once sounds dated or dull. There’s the garage funk of the early Poets incarnation the Bus People Express; the deep jazz of vocalist Bajka gigging with a Max Whitefield ensemble; the pan-African psych-jazz of the Whitefield Brothers. And that’s just three of the ensembles contained within. Original Raw Soul III’s sixteen tracks that span the gamut of forty years of musical innovation, recorded over the past twenty years, and presented anew today.

Contains two previously unreleased songs by The Transgressors, which also released on a 7” in conjunction with this album. Download one – the garagey funk number “Money For Born Money For Die” – below.

Buy: Original Raw Soul III
Download: Transgressors “Money For Born Money For Die.”

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