The Whitefield Brothers add quite a bit of their sonic research to what is already some hostile, heavy psych-funk. On Earthology, you can hear Asian and Arabic influences alongside their continued fascination with African rythmic modes, which they began to explore on their debut, In The Raw. Joined by the likes of Mr. Lif and members of the Dap-Kings, the Brothers take the structures of funk beyond their traditional scope. But the result is not an added-on splurge of sounds that sound experimental or poorly chosen. The influences only deepen the music, showing how funk translates well into other rhythmic, percussive sounds.
“Joyful Exultation” kicks off the set, with heavy bass and drums beating the groove into submission. “Reverse” is a rap with a muted downer echo that mutates into an almost techno groove. “Taisho” starts off with a bouzouki riff before huge drums and bass remind you of the funk at hand.
Quite a few instrumentals give the band time to explore these blends. “Sad Nile” is propelled by a killer horn section, “Ntu” by percussion. Both “Pamukkale” and “Alin” make heavy use of flute and Afro-Asian ployrhythms. Finally, “Lullaby for Lagos” has an insistent guitar rhythm, with flute for contrast, but it sounds mostly like a Fela tune, and what better lullaby for Nigeria than one that pays a nod to its Dylan?
By description, Earthology may seem like an exercise in music dabbling. But at the heart of the Whitefield Brothers’ sound is deadly solid funk. Their amazing ear for the other grooves in the world that work well with the funk provide for a seamless exploration of rhythm and beat that is often powerful and always precise.