Dr. Israel

Patterns of War

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Dr. Israel is back and bursting with righteous anger, multicultural inspiration, and rhythmic power. While he hasn't left experimental jungle behind completely (check out the remastered and extended reissue of his 1999 classic Inna City Pressure released on ROIR in 2005), Patterns of War stays mostly in a slower, darker reggae groove -- old-school in a sense, but forward-looking at the same time. Longstanding fans will recognize those signature piano stabs that surface on almost every track, but guest vocalists Chemda and Lady K will come as something of a surprise. They lend a welcome added layer to Dr. Israel's sonic mix, especially on the Arabic-flavored drum'n'bass of "Tetze (Get Out)" and the Middle Eastern hip-hop fusion of "One." Elsewhere the beats are straight-up reggae: "Counting out Stones" is a fine roots number complemented by a deep and smoky dub version, while "Interference" is a nice punky reggae anthem featuring the brilliant Oregonian ensemble Systemwide (house band of the lamented BSI label). "Cover Me" is a beautifully constructed groove that doesn't really go anywhere, and "Sensimilla" doesn't say anything about the herb that hasn't been said a million times before, but even the least compelling material on this album is loads of good, heavyweight fun. Highly recommended.

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