In the late '80s, there was a short-lived hybrid called hip-house, mixing the earthy vocal rhythms of rap and the cold electronic beats of house music. At its best, it was an interesting blend of contrasting styles, but mostly it was just kind of boring and irritating. Five Deez's Kommunicator is rather like a 2006 updating of hip-house, marrying contemporary trends in both underground hip-hop and post-glitch electronic dance music, but largely steering clear of the pitfalls of both. As a result, straightforward hip-hop like the assertive, lyrically positive "Black Rushmore" and the snarky, attitude-heavy single "Fugg That" sit comfortably next to near-ambient experiments like "When the Silence Is Gone." With a history that moves from Cincinnati to Berlin and back, Five Deez come to both sides of their hybrid sound honestly; Kommunicator, like their previous two long-play releases, is an organic collaboration between four talented performers, and on this album, all the members are operating in peak form. One of the most exciting electronic albums in ages, Kommunicator is also a great hip-hop record.
by Stewart Mason