October 26, 2006

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Gino Foti, Sphere of Influence
Net Dot Music, 2006

Hang around the burbs of Boston — let alone downtown — long enough and you start to forget that you’re artistically spoiled, then you completely forget, and then you reach the point where every record you hear from a local artist receives only the most cursory review from your inner critic: “Is it on Warner Brothers? No? Okay, then it’s useless.” Billerica’s Gino Foti emigrated from Italy in the ’70s and has been releasing anything-goes world-fusion for ten years now as the bassist for Electrum, a band in which he indulges every Jaco Pastorius fantasy that’s ever popped into his head. Sphere of Influence, as the name hides so well, is a sideways nod to Rush’s Hemispheres album of approximately 650 million years ago, but in title (and liner-note thank-yous to Geddy Lee) only; what Foti is about when he’s alone with his (wild stab here) Rickenbacker is world music, period, and needless to say it’s brilliant, if brilliant to you is firing a fully automatic paintball gun at a spinning globe and splotching every country. The opening zither measures denote Italy, then squat properly in China for six zen-like minutes; “Amor y Poder” explores bullfighter pump-up; “Degrees of Force” is salsa for Tucker Carlson. A-

— Eric W. Saeger