Massilia Sound System


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On this album, Marseilles' premier Occitan dancehall reggae crew sounds a bit more introspective than usual. There has always been a strong element of politics in Massilia Sound System's music, though it has generally been limited to expressions of fierce regional pride and the usual calls for cultural unity, etc. But this is the first album on which the group seems actually to be brooding about something. That mood comes through as much in the music as in the lyrics: the title track opens the program in a notably dark and moody vein, and is followed by the slowly grinding, hip-hoppy "Les Papets, les Minots...." It's not until the third track, "Toute Petite Danse," a piece of simple rockers reggae with a lilting melody and traditional Provençal instrumentation thrown in, that the old Massilia Sound System re-emerges. Other songs incorporate elements of rock, funk (note especially the brilliant "Ne Me Dis Pas Non"), and even jazz, but as usual it's the straight-ahead, meat-and-potatoes dancehall tracks that hit the hardest, chief among them the excellent "Street Dinner" and the minimalist, turntable-laced "Incasinati." The album's strangest moment comes right at the end, with a gently tuneful but weirdly nyahbinghi-inflected number titled "La Regenta de Mon Còr." Newcomers should start with Parla Patois and work up to this one gradually, but fans will find plenty to enjoy on this album.

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