Extra Golden – Thank You Very Quickly

Extra Golden - Thank You Very Quickly

Even the most open-minded of music-lovers in the west will confess to a mild ignorance and misunderstanding of African audio life.  Obscured by Paul Simon’s exploitative Graceland and the over-earnest reverence of Damon Alban’s Mali Music or segregated into the patronising pigeonhole of ‘world music,’ African music is often respected from a distance but never fully embraced.  But rummage deep into your memory banks and the marks of the vast continent are found fused into the DNA strands of adventurous western bands that many of us love unconditionally.

From Talking Heads’ still remarkable Remain In Light, throughout Sam Prekop’s body of work with Shrimp Boat, The Sea And Cake and as a solo artist, inside Tortoise’s polyrhythmic melting-pot and right into the afrobeat-pop of Vampire Weekend, the sonic spirit of Africa has been here all the time without many of us even realising it.  Heck, even the banjo – an American folk-country instrument of choice – is of direct African descent.  Taking all this in mind, then the collaboration of New Yorker Ian Eagleson and Washington DC-dweller Alex Minoff with Kenyans Onyango Jagwasi and Onyango Wuod Omari – under the umbrella of Extra Golden – makes logical and almost seamless sense.  Celebrating as well as merging mutual origins to the point where the back-stories and geography fall behind the importance of the joint creation, this third album from the group blesses a pan-global marriage with joyous self-confidence.

The nearly-eight minute opener “Gimakiny Akia” carves out a template that the rest of the LP more or less fits to; elastic duelling guitar grooves, vibrant skittering drums and infectious spirited vocals, underpinned with a buzzing keyboard squelch.  Whilst some of the bemused might appreciate a bilingual lyric sheet, it matters little what language is sung, as the jam-based hooks imbed themselves regardless.  The ensuing “Fantasies of the Orient,” “Pine Yore Yore,” and “Anyango” may empathically blur into each other, but the record’s robust hyper-rhythmic backbone is flexible enough to prevent the collection from collapsing into a constrictive posture.  Further in, the more wistful “Ukimwi” self-tames the tempos a touch to act as a reflective palate-cleanser before the closing title-track wraps up proceedings with sinewy guitar lines that Tortoise’s Jeff Parker and The Sea And Cake’s Archer Prewitt would snap their best bookish glasses to replicate.

Whilst Thank You Very Quickly could be dissected more effectively with superior and wider cultural knowledge, to these now more enlightened ears it doesn’t really need to be analysed down into its biomechanical infrastructure.  Because ultimately, its six extended cross-pollinations should lead to a growth in affection, in even the most inhospitable of conditions.