Earthology caught my attention because the cover art was so damned cool. That and the fact that I had no idea what a German funk band would sound like.
As the listener you are treated again and again to a flurry of expertly composed, sample friendly tunes that are at once hummable and challenging. And that run the genre gamut from West African traditional music, languid jazz, hip hop, fife & drum and expertly delivered funk beats. The record never loses its groove. The ultimate affect is a bit like Konono No 1 jamming with The Roots. However, while endless comparisons may be made to an array of greats (Othar Turner, Fela Kuti, Miles Davis, Ali Farka Toure to name but a few) the record has a beat and heart all of its own. It is 21st century, postmodern, postglobal, posteverything funk. Ersatz yes, but no bad thing at all.
Fife, jazz flute, xylophone, electric bass, Booker-T inspired organ and various traditional forms of percussion merge seamlessly together. The overall sound is of a mid 70's funk band covering 50's jazz numbers in the dark, surrounded by a halo of smoke and grime. At least it would be, if they didn't sound on every other track like they just got back from either the Niger river or the Mississippi Delta in the 30's. If they didn't retain the uptempo fury and power of old school hip hop. If they weren't so intent on taking you on a trip through the darkest recesses of their favorite records. Dragging those roots and re-potting them in the here and now for a new generation.
We will hear this album sampled to infinity over the next ten years on any number of quality hip hop records. Which as I said, will be no bad thing.