Pub date December 30, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW Los Angeles’ Orgone chose its name well: if you have a couple hours to kill, you could do worse than riding the Wikipedia reference trail in the direction of Wilhelm Reich’s concept and its ambitious attempt to link observable events with libidinal energy. What the idea lacks in scientific standing, it makes up for in its ability to st(r)oke the imagination. Orgone’s abbreviated Afrobeat-soul-funk jams might even make a good alternate soundtrack to the orgy of styles, stories, and moods on display in Dušan Makavejev’s W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971). Even though Orgone has nine core members, there’s nothing flabby or random about the ensemble’s sound: Fela Kuti’s fusion of Ghanaian highlife and American funk sets the rules and agenda for the group on tracks like "It’s What You Do," and the playing is tight enough to put accusations of "genre exercise" to bed while brimming with the kind of coherence that might even make something as anarchic as W.R. make sense.

But even when dipping their toe in Afrobeat, Orgone’s overriding ambition clearly points to the soul/funk axis of Otis Redding and the Meters. Next to Antibalas’ jazzy flow, Orgone’s horns seem unable to content themselves with Afrobeat’s long-form, percoutf8g build, eager instead to burst out of the song’s frame. Romantic longing is the locus of this Angeleno nonet’s music, a point that’s unmistakable when vocalist Fanny Franklin steps up to the mic on tracks like "Who Knows Who." In submitting to its influences rather than vying for the romantic notion of the original artist, Orgone humbly hits all the pleasure points strewn across the genres the band venerates. It feels as bright and welcoming as it sounds.

ORGONE With DJ K-OS. Sat/3, 9:30 p.m., $15. Boom Boom Room, 1601 Fillmore, SF. (415) 673-8000,