That first concert attracted a strange crowd. There they were:Â leaping marmosets, roving rhino, feeding jackals and various other members of the animal kingdom frozen in their diverse and respective habitats, a veritable potpourri of Life on Earth. All the disparate parts, the whole spectrum of the Circle of Life (to quote the Lion King), had been brought together under a single vaulted roof. To add to the curiosity, a stage had been erected amidst the fauna and their many ecosystems — a rainforest here, a frigid glacier there– and a couple hundred Urban Outfitted 20-somethings now paraded casually through the shifting landscapes, comfortable, I suppose, in their own larger ecosystem: a 21st century American metropolis. It was the kind of strange and fascinating intersection that could only be produced synthetically. Like, say, in a Natural History museum.
Which is exactly where we were. And which is where I watched another strange and fascinating intersection take place…
The first-Friday jump-offs have been going on for a minute at the Museum of Natty History here inÂ L.A., a truly unique and fun monthly event that culls together music and booze and lots of taxidermied animals toward the pursuit of merrymaking. I had been a few times over the years, seen a few good bands. Got drunk with the dinosaurs, etc. But it wasn’t until this particular night that potential of the context was fully realized.
Here’s what I saw: a motley crew of lanky Angelenos, dressed in tight jeans or Birkenstocks or turbans or wildly-patterned mumus, jerking out African and Middle Eastern rhythms in Parkinsonian bursts — hand drums shakers electric guitars gourds vintage keyboards — accompanied by Hebrew and English vocals (and other simply unidentifiable noises) with a whole slew of rapt (and mystified) scenesters, museum-goers and dead mammals dancing like the survival of the planet depended on it.
Fool’sÂ Gold (the band, not the label, fool!) are an ensemble of local L.A. talent that are giving some credence to the notion of a truly globalized world. Sure,Â David Byrne, has been doing this stuff forever and Vampire Weekend got crazy hype for adding just a few of those kinetic melodic flourishes, but rarely have I heard this kind of boundary-shifting global fusion done to such beautiful effect (I’ll take this opportunity to shout out that otherÂ L.A. conglomerate, Dengue Fever, as another rare example of that delicious alchemy). And with such a strange cast of characters. Of course, what makes great music great is not who makes it. So, yes, here’s a scruffy and unlikely group of African music purveyors; but finally, what sells me on Fool’s Gold is that the music itself sounds utterly authentic, even for it’s disparate parts. Which is to say, there’s nothing inherently synthetic in synthesis.
They’ve got an album due later this year. Buy it.
Fool’s Gold:Â Surprise Hotel