Unstraight Head (Now Again)
Freestyle / Nu Jazz / Funk / Afro
"Afrodelic Krautrock excursions featuring members of Poets of Rhythm and the Whitefield Brothers 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, aka 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, and Timmion. 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 experimental-ism 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 says. 'We're trying to combine the global experimental-ism 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."