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The Whitefield Brothers: Earthology

The Whitefield Brothers: Earthology

Release Date:2010

By Lee Gardner | Posted 2/10/2010

If you're the far-thinking sort, you might wanna lay aside a coupla extra copies of Earthology for your kids to bust out when they hit the college-party circuit. This is the stuff a crate-digger's dreams are made of: dusty-sounding throwback funk, laced with enough exotic sonic seasoning and drips of hot spit to blow a few dozen minds dropped in somewhere as a sample or a basement-dancefloor set-filler.

"Joyful Exaltation" serves as both intro and invocation as the Whitefield Brothers, aka moonlighting German funk group the Poets of Rhythm, unfold a faux conscious-funk jam that sounds a bit like the J.B.'s recorded in a janitor's closet. Thick as the old-school ambiance cultivated here swirls, it doesn't obscure the intricate marimba-driven syncopation of follow-up "Safari Strut" or the urgent beat and urgent rhymes (courtesy Percee P and MED) sandwiching the snaky bass, clanging cowbell, and video-game-synth bridge of "Reverse."

From there, the music expands from the straight-up American funk sound. "Taisho" features a vaguely Asian zither sound while "Sad Nile" busts out Fela-style brawling, bottom-heavy horns. "Pamukkale" unwinds amid ersatz Ottoman bellydance-den smoke while a wooden flute wobbles across the chiming bronze percussion of "Alin." But by "Sem Yelesh" the Whitefields are pretty much straight-up reprising the Ethiopiques series, and the self-consciousness of the musical borrowing starts to distract from the band's otherwise admirable taste and chops.

Whether we need yet more new records that sound like old records is a conundrum for another time. Earthology is a solid blast, although perhaps enjoyed best in small doses. Like as a sample, or as a single track heard on a basement dancefloor.

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