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Malachai are a cryptic, capricious, Bristol-based duo whose perplexing, structurally erratic cut-and-paste songs bear the unmistakable imprint of classic late-'60s/early-'70s British rock -- psychedelia, prog, heavy blues, and white-boy garage-soul -- stitched together with traces of trip-hop, hip-hop, dub, Krautrock, and more. Equally impudent in their playful disregard for established musical boundaries, and in their willfully enigmatic public persona, burly-voiced vocalist Gee and shadowy sample-master Scott (no last names given) began working together as Malakai in 2006 (they were later forced to change the name after an Australian rapper laid claim to their original spelling), citing inspiration from Brian Wilson and the Beatles as well as Madlib, Edan, and Massive Attack. With encouragement from Portishead's Geoff Barrow, a longtime friend and local Bristol figurehead, they began releasing music the following year, blurring the perceptual lines between live instrumentation and transparently sampled material on tracks like their debut single, "Fading World," issued on Barrow's Invada imprint, and "The Battle" (later retitled "Shitkickers"), the lead track on a 2007 Island Records EP. After a prospective deal with Island fell through, Malachai released their first album, 2009's Ugly Side of Love, on Invada as well; it was picked up by Domino Records for a U.S. release the following year. A sequel album, Return to the Ugly Side, appeared in 2011 followed by their third effort, 2014's Beyond Ugly. ~ K. Ross Hoffman

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2006 in Bristol, England

Years Active:

'00s, '10s