The Popstream's Underrated '08: Karl Hector & the Malcouns

The Popstream's Underrated '08: Karl Hector & the Malcouns

Forgive me for sounding suspicious, but whenever an obscure artist with little to no paper trail or resume shows up on the Stones Throw label (or, in this case, their retro imprint Now-Again), my first inclination is to assume it's another secret side project from Madlib -- aka Ahmad Miller, aka Joe McDuphrey, aka Monk Hughes, aka Morgan Adams III, aka Tyrone Foster... aka Karl Hector? Well, maybe not; unlike the fictional members of Yesterdays New Quintet or Madlib's other assorted jazz-cat alter egos, Hector's name goes way back with a different clique entirely -- problem is, that clique happens to be the circle of musicians that orbits in and around the German funk group the Poets of Rhythm, maybe one of the most alias-happy bands in existence. I admit to being kind of confused.
Now-Again founder Egon somewhat un-confused me in this Fader interview where he describes Karl Hector & the Malcouns as "[Poets of Rhythm guitarist] J. Whitefield and a couple of his friends," though I have no idea how many "a couple" are and whether the photo up there (found during a Google image search of "Malcouns") actually includes a Mr. Hector or not. And the video for their single/debut album title track "Sahara Swing" doesn't resolve the issue any, what with the face-averse video being all blown-out and solarized and looking like the cover of Black Sabbath Vol. 4. But there's a reason to scrape and scratch away at trying to figure out who's who in this group, because they're snap-tight. Their blend of Afrobeat and classic late '60s Southern funk is way too engaging to be played by a crew of obscurities -- which either means they're veterans incognito or nobodies who deserve somebody status.

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