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Fool’s Gold – Fool’s Gold (IAMSOUND)

January 26, 2010

I’ve been doing a bit of a coffee-making stint down at a record store recently – something has to help fund the obsessive-compulsive music buying habit – and when we got IAMSOUND’s gloriously green 7” of Fool’s Gold’s ‘Surprise Hotel’ on the shelves, it quickly became a favourite listen in between frothing cappuccinos.

And of course the single, living up to its calling in life, wet my appetite for the full-length release that’s out today. But before we begin, let me get a few things out of the way so we don’t have to mention them again: Afro-beat, Afro-pop, African rhythms in general, zouk, highlife, tropicalia, Tinariwen and, just for good measure, Paul Simon’s Graceland.

Yeah I think that about covers the obvious for this 12-piece Echo Park, LA-based band led by guitarist Lewis Pesacov and singer/bassist Luke Top. And we could bang on for ages about all the different countries on the African continent, that the Fool’s Gold record expertly touches upon but it wouldn’t do any of us any good. Yeah, this isn’t Songlines

The general feeling that swells from the grooves of this debut is that most of the tracks have grown organically from endless jam sessions. Sessions that have swallowed up a decent chunk of the LA music scene it seems – members of Foreign Born, We Are Scientists, Luke Top’s eponymous band, even Orpheo McCord, the on/off drummer for The Fall have all become part of the mix ‘n’ match Lego kit that is FG.

It’s tracks like ‘Night Dancing’ and ‘Poseidon’ that despite having been kept under 7 minutes still feel like they could jam themselves up into epic Fela-like trances if not kept under strict watch. But it’s also the overriding Hong Kong pop-isms of ‘Poseidon’ that make you realise that the nets of Fool’s Gold have been cast deeper into the international music fishbowl than it first appears on the surface.

Let us not forget the smattering of 80’s soul pop. Bouncing along like a Tears For Fears track that’s run away with the saxophone from Hall & Oates’ ‘Maneater’, ‘Yam Lo Moshech’s only weighty anchor to the rest of its global surroundings are Top’s Hebrew vocals that feature predominantly throughout the album.

And with heavier, vintage soul attached to it ankles, the aching lament of ‘Nadine’, if only partly in English, is clear to all. A stand out moment on the album for being more emotionally linked than some of the headier jam tracks and their frenzied beat stupors.

But even though these may have been fitted to recording sized perfection, like many of FG’s forbearers, from King Sunny Ade to Staff Benda Bilili, the ecstatic and extended groove can only take on its fullest form in a live setting.

[Originally reviewed for Bearded]

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