Fold, a reflection of us all
Fold have appeared here a number of times. Their personal politics accompanied by great downtempo music that combines indie dynamics with a dance and sampling sensibility Finally, and it feels long overdue, here’s their debut album. An album of big brass and big political themes, it recognises our flawed world and flawed humanity.
Inevitably, it opens with some heart on the sleeve sampling of John Lennon about the role of artists as a reflection of us all. This is an album with humanity at its core. Hardly surprising that JFK accompanies Lennon on A Reflection Of Us All. The recent single, A Victim’s Mentality, follows with its funky beats and brass. Detroit Red offers Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) in a blaxpoitation setting that swings its hips in a provocative manner.
On what they want people to take from the album Fold say “Fold is an ongoing experiment looking for the best ways to achieve certain goals. We want this album to give people pause to reflect on certain happenings in the world and their role in them. We hope that for even just a brief moment while listening it will encourage the mind away from divisive thinking towards a sense of unity, empathy and equality. These goals all hinge on the voices we chose and what they had to say. The curation and placement of those voices (with or without their unanimous consent) creates a kind of unifying consensus that we should treat each other equally and take responsibility for ourselves.”
Mr President, We’re In Trouble takes Jimmy Carter and moves away from racism towards green issues. The White Man explores racism in the context of a sixties brassy funk setting. This manages the knife edge of retro and contemporary.
She provides the heart of the album. A lamenting indie funk of a track focusing down from the big themes to something more personal and a vocal from 6% poet. The more personal qualities are also present on the rippling, lamenting So It Goes. This manages to put big issues – RFK and MLK – in a more personal way through Vonnegut’s spoken word sample.
There’s a return to the big political themes on Oil-Powered Machine’s take on food production costs. The driving rhythms of this track manage a sense of present danger that’s quite thrilling. Be Water My Friend offers another funky sense. There’s trumpets, brass, guitars, beats and Bruce Lee samples. A bit like The Go! Team A fabulously heady concoction.
The album closes with the thrilling, big brass funk of Two Past Midnight. This also returns to the album’s main theme of racism, with a sample from Fannie Lou Hamer. This is taken from her 1969 speech in Berkeley, California and demands a change. Given everything happening now, a message
From Fold, Seth Mowshowitz says “We’re also aiming at setting an example to other musicians by putting humanity before self promotion – being part of a wider movement that is putting more of a conscience back into music. Of course there is self promotion involved but notoriety is not our end, it is a means to an end. Speaking personally reading that back it all sounds terribly worthy and perhaps it is. I am a privileged, white middle class kid of Anglo-Russian/Polish Jewish ancestry who has never directly experienced racism. In making this record I also wanted to acknowledge my increased awareness of that fact and what it means. I am trying to understand something outside of my own experience because that is ultimately what is required of many to make a real change. I would gladly trade the privileges I’ve enjoyed for the eradication of racism and a sustainable way of life for everyone.”
Laudable, though as Billy Bragg once said “a poet with all the answers has never yet been built.” The album has a coherent political and musical ambition, which it delivers on. I’d have an instrumental version of this album in heartbeat. But so many heavyweight political tracks one after the other risk it feeling like a Brent Labour party meeting of the late 80s. She is the album’s balance, and in all honesty, some interludes of softer or more personal material might have served the album better overall. Each of the tracks is great, the singles remain individually fabulous but together, the album is best experienced in small doses.
All tracks written, arranged, performed, produced & mixed by Fold with additional contributions as listed below.
Fold are Seth Mowshowitz (keys, guitar & vibraphone), Kane Rattray (drums), Ben Walsh (bass) & Josh Gardziel (guitar).
Vocals on track 2 written & performed by Mr Gee. Vocals on track 6 written & performed by 6% poet. Vocals on track 7 written & performed by Kurt Vonnegut. Speeches on track 1 by John Lennon & John F Kennedy (in order of appearance). Speech on track 3 by el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. Speech on track 4 by Jimmy Carter. Speech on track 5 by Lena Horne. Speeches on track 8 by Michael C Ruppert, Jimmy Carter & Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (in order of appearance). Speech on track 9 by Bruce Lee. Speech on track 10 by Fannie Lou Hamer.
Brass arrangements on tracks 2, 5, 6, 7 & 9 by Emma Johnson. Brass on tracks 2, 5, 6, & 7 performed by Emma Johnson (tenor & baritone saxophone), Edward Ody (trumpet & flugelhorn) & Tom Smith (trombone). Brass on track 9 performed by Emma Johnson (tenor saxophone), Ciaran Diston (trumpet) & Peter Johnson (trombone).
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 & 10 recorded, engineered & co-produced by Ed Heaton at Eiger Studios, Leeds. Tracks 3 & 8 recorded, engineered & co-produced by Matt Worsley at Luck Lane Studios, Huddersfield.
Mastered by Erik Aldrey (www.erikaldrey.com)
℗ & © Seth Mowshowitz / Fold, 2015