For the last six weeks, I’ve spent my drive time cloistered within the soothing cocoon of Fela Kuti’s Expensive Shit/He Miss Road. Accordingly, few contemporary albums have battered through that hermetically sealed, parallel universe where I smoke acres of trees at the Kalakuta Republic circa 1975 while inventing a plethora of dance moves, including the Roger Rabbit, the Cabbage Patch and the Wop.
One of the rare exceptions has been Karl Hector and the Malcouns’ Sahara Swing, released earlier this month on Stones Throw subsidiary, Now-Again Records. Information about Hector is scarce, with his only previous recording experience being one 7-inch that he recorded a dozen years ago as the leader of an ostensibly aviation-themed outfit called the Funk Pilots. But his influences are clear: Fela’s slick, seraphic swing and James Brown’s filthy pigpen funk.
Other cited inspirations include Mulatu Astatke of Ethiopia,Jean-Claude Vannier and Can, the latter being particularly prominent, no doubt partially because of Hector’s Krautrock-weaned German backing band. It’s no Expensive Shit, not even close, but it’s a fun, graceful ride, with both crisp jazzy jams and disco-inflected dance grooves. In fact, here’s a video of me moving to it. Yes, in case you were wondering, the sport coat is C&R.