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Gold Fields – Black Sun album review

Fans of the double drum rejoice! Gold Fields has broken free from the lower colonies. Following their self-titled EP, Black Sun represents the Australian band’s debut With highly rhythmic and intricate beats and a strong bass to fit. This band is sure to please any 80’s raised, rave-rolling individual. The music is made for dancing, and the band will make a clear demonstration of how you should be dancing during their live performances. You will hear guitar lines that will echo into your next substantial meal, effect-driven vocals that could calm a hummingbird on PCP, a bass that will blow your glow-sticks off, solid synths and of course, double drums.  But while Black Sun may be a solid album, there is an essential aspect of Gold Fields it cannot provide its listener.  This is absolutely a band that should be seen live, and should also be examined on that level. 

Black Sun is a basic representation of what you might expect to see from their live show, as opposed to an purely artistic studio endeavor. This is a somewhat surprising feat considering the intricacy of holding together multiple drum parts with the highly echoed guitar and multiple effects (including more echoes) wrapped around the vocals. While it is incredibly impressive that the talented members of Gold Fields can pull this off in a clean manner, there is still an essence of disconnection between the airy, sleepy vocals and the driving tribal drum beats.

 Vin Andanar will hate me for saying it, but the guitar work can sound, at times, a little too close to The Edge for comfort. That isn’t an accidental capitalization and a pun. It is an unfortunate reference to U2. Lead singer Mark Fuller, aside from the occasional demonic possession on the ceremonial tambourine that no one can hear, looks and sounds at times like he could fall asleep. Standing behind him are two highly animated drummers seemingly trying to summon the spirits to posses their singer. It is quite a dichotomy. Does it work? Yes. Does it need work? Yes. Does that matter in the context of a Gold Fields show, probably somewhere in the Australian desert with nothing to live off of but buried beer and MDMA? I highly doubt it.

Complaints aside, there are some incredibly strong features to the quintet that need acknowledgement. Bassist Luke Peldys gives strong, but not dominating bass lines that never take over, but never hides in the background. Instead, they tend to point towards the real attraction to the band, the dynamic between the always entertaining drummer, Ryan D’sylva from Stealing O’Neal (another Australian band) and keyboardist Rob Clifton. If you take a look at the video from Jimmy Kimmel Live you might notice how the cameraman has trouble keeping the focus off of the drummers. Even when the vocals start there are at least two instances in which Fuller is singing his hoodie off, but the cameraman is intent on getting another close-up of the cowbells. 

Gold Fields will do fine. They will be very popular at festivals, and everyone will leave their shows happy, tired and very very thirsty. You may not go to a festival specifically to see them, but you would not be disappointed if you did. Their debut album is a filtered, sterilized and distilled version of what they do live. See the band, and then if you like them (which you probably will) buy the CD to support them. If you buy the CD first, and like it enough to see them live, you will be in for a real treat.