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Bring out the Sound
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  • The Herbaliser's eighth studio album delivers the group's expected blend of live-band funk, hip-hop attitude, and cinematic cool, but this time out, they incorporate an even bigger melting pot of influences than before. Early on, dramatic strings swell up beside airy acoustic guitars and Just Jack's calmly resolute vocals during the downtempo folk ballad "Seize the Day." The mood immediately shifts with the following "Like Shaft," a boisterous ragga-rap featuring Rodney P and 28luchi getting loose over a stripped-back but flavorful rhythm. Further surprises abound when the laid-back stroll of "Out There" is suddenly interrupted by stuttering, robotic electro vocals. A healthy layer of dub echo is tastefully applied throughout, particularly on "Some Things," which features a returning Rodney P alongside smooth, sliding R&B vocals by Tiece. The swirling trip-hop grooves of "Over & Over" are graced by the sweet, yearning multi-tracked harmonies of Stac, demonstrating the Herbaliser's skill at applying their style to a more straightforward pop song. The saxophone on acid jazz throwback "Tripwire" is just a little too smooth for comfort, but it's balanced out by the full brigade of horns and galloping bongos that guide the heavy funk workout "Takedown." Despite the constant presence of rigorous scratching from DJ Ollie Teeba and the choppy breakbeats of opening track "Breach," not to mention the familiar intro to The Shadow ("Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?") appearing at the beginning of the spaghetti Western homage "Hearts of Men," the group claims that the album is devoid of sampling. It hardly seems to matter, though. Whether sourcing breaks from dusty old records or recording their own rich, colorful arrangements, or both, the Herbaliser have always excelled at crafting their own vintage yet modern sound. While it seems like an album as eclectic as Bring Out the Sound could potentially sound scattered, the Herbaliser maintain a cohesive aesthetic, and everything goes down smoothly. ~ Paul Simpson
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