Somewhere in between making new records with Wild Orchid Children and Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground last year, Thomas Hunter wrote and recorded his very first solo album. White China Gold is a smooth collection of songs that can't really be pinned down to just one genre or influence. The opening track, "White China March," could be an Al Green song; it chimes and hums while Hunter croons, "I met you and spun out of control/I ain't got the voice baby, I just got the soul." "A Vaguely Pregnant Piece of Nonsense" is a soft and pretty folk number; "Tinfoil Slip" is something of a modern barroom jingle, with a clicking beat, slide guitar, keyboard, and a harmonizing sing-along chorus ("Who really cares if things ain't what they seem?/Who really cares about your world on a string?/Who really cares about gods, men, or machines?/Just stay high and it feels like a dream.")
Subject-wise, the album rambles from whores to hitchhikers, from declarations of love to dropping acid in the Siskiyou Mountains. Think Beat literature set to music. But for all its different components, the songs on White China Gold flow together, belong together. A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting down with Hunter at Bar 41; an episode of Soul Train was being projected onto the wall next to us; Sly Stone was shimmying around in a glittery pink jumpsuit. Of White China Gold's extreme diversity, Hunter told me, "I'm obsessed with soul, Stax, Motown, Afrobeat, stuff like that. A lot of it is super-soul, but it's all really pretty. Some of it gets a little folky, and then there's Frank Zappa moments. Honestly, it's all over the board, but it's very cohesive."Hunter plays guitar for WOC and Kay Kay; on White China Gold we finally get to hear him sing lead, and it's nice, because he has a lulling, pleasant voice. He also plays the majority of the instruments heard on the record--guitar, bass, mandolin, keys, percussion--but got a little help from his bandmates, including Kay Kay's Kyle O'Quin on keys and bass, Jacob Hoffman on French horn and vocals, and a plethora of others.
As of now, Hunter has no solid plans for the record. But it's worth listening to and owning, so my suggestion is, track the guy down--he's about 6'5" and shouldn't be difficult to spot--and demand a copy. He himself told me "I've been just giving it away to a lot of people."