Cali Fever

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Thanks perhaps to the resurgent interest in vinyl collection and the deep soul and funk of the 1960s and '70s, there have been a number of bands that have sprung up specializing in various forms of the genres. Orgone, a nine-piece from Los-Angeles, is among these bands, and is also among the better of them. While their sound certainly pulls from the harder funk of the early '70s, the group is also clearly inspired by Afro-beat, psychedelic rock, and disco, all of which are on display on Cali Fever, an album of originals, and their fourth full-length. This isn't to say, however, that each is played with equal success. The reverb and dry percussion in "It's Time Tonight" are certainly "authentic" sounding, but the song itself feels a little dull and lifeless, not even exhibiting some of the purposeful flatness that can make disco so great. Part of this is due to the work of the singer, Fanny Franklin, who, while certainly in possession of a powerful and flexible voice, doesn't have much personality in her presentation, and the songs that do feature her vocals are unfortunately less interesting, and less lively, than those that are strictly instrumentals. Because at heart, Orgone is an instrumental band, and it's these songs that have been their best, and that are the album's best. "Matanza," for example, a Brazilian-influenced piece, retains a lightness and an easy danceability even once all the horns come in and play around with Ethio-jazz phrasing, thanks in part to the percussion work, which is never overblown. Similarly, the hard-hitting "Last Fool," which opens up Cali Fever, is bass-filled and aggressive enough to mean something without having to resort to rock guitar riffs, and the title track is loose and funky so to make it almost feel like an improvisation, even though there are few wasted moments. Unfortunately, however, there aren't enough of these songs to make the record feel as complete and solid as some of the band's other releases, and while certainly not a disappointment, Cali Fever doesn't quite fulfill the expectation Orgone set up with their previous work.

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