Fanfarlo explores evolution, extinction on new CD 

click to enlarge Fanfarlo
  • COURTESY HELEN WOODS
  • English quintet Fanfarlo plays the Great American Music Hall next week.
Swedish-born singer Simon Balthazar dives deep with his brainy English combo Fanfarlo, which was named for an obscure novella by the renowned French decadent poet Charles Baudelaire. One can picture him in slippers and smoking jacket, puffing thoughtfully on his Meerschaum pipe in his library as he came up with “Let’s Go Extinct,” his quintet’s new third release, featuring heady philosophical material such as “Life In the Sky,” “We’re the Future” and the apocalyptic title track.

What is “Cell Song” about on the new album? It’s really interesting to think about a cell in the human body as a being, an organism, an animal unto itself. But it’s an organism that’s been domesticated, so it wouldn’t really survive in the wild. So we’re these gatherings of billions of little animals that have radically changed their way of interacting with the world — unlike amoebas, they’ve found their way into this bizarre community where they cooperate. When you start thinking about the body like that, it gives you a very different perspective on what it means to be a person.

And humanity has essentially doomed itself to extinction, right? Well, I think there are going to be some big changes. There’s a great Carl Sagan quote that goes something like, “Survival is the exception — extinction is the rule.” So if we don’t end up colonizing Mars or the moon, maybe we’ll just turn into something else, maybe we’ll evolve back into the sea, or maybe we’ll just go away. Like Kurt Vonnegut’s “Galapagos,” which is set a million years into the future, where the only remnants of humanity are living in the Galapagos Islands because the rest of the world is inhabited by a virus. So humanity has basically evolved back into being sea creatures.

Is that what you were hinting at in Fanfarlo’s last EP, “The Sea”? Yeah. There’s a similar idea there, for sure. I’m not a massive TV watcher, but I randomly came across “True Detective,” and Matthew McConaughey plays this guy who’s prone to these existential rants. And he has one where he talks about man having made an evolutionary misstep by becoming conscious, and I think that’s true. Our level of consciousness and self-awareness sets us apart from other animals, but it’s always been the bane of our existence, as well. But there’s value in considering these ideas. It’s like when you walk down the street, just looking at what’s in front of you. It’s important to look up every now and then and see things from a bigger perspective.

IF YOU GO

Fanfarlo

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Tickets: $15 to $17

Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com

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Tom Lanham

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