English is the unofficial language of reggae and ska -- more often than not, a reggae or ska beat is accompanied by English lyrics. But there are numerous exceptions to that rule; artists who perform in Spanish, Portuguese, various African languages, and even Japanese have been influenced by reggae and ska. On FM 99.00 Dub Manifest, Fermin Muguruza (a Basque singer from Spain) demonstrates that the Basque language can be perfectly compatible with a reggae or ska beat. Muguruza's music is adventurous and quite unorthodox -- it isn't every day that you hear someone who mixes alternative rock with ska and reggae singing in Basque. And the plot thickens: Muguruza (who doesn't employ a ska or reggae beat 100% of the time but does so frequently) has also been influenced by hip-hop and drum'n'bass/jungle. But as experimental as this CD is, none of the material comes across as the least bit forced or unnatural -- everything sounds organic. Muguruza's lyrics are highly sociopolitical, although most listeners won't understand them because Basque isn't one of the world's more widely spoken languages. Thankfully, Piranha has provided English, French, and Spanish translations of the lyrics -- however, there are no German translations, which is surprising because the Berlin-based Piranha is a German label. But regardless of whether or not you know what Muguruza is singing about, it's obvious that this excellent CD is as inspired as it is fresh-sounding.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson