Rough Out There

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Someday someone should write a doctoral dissertation examining the question of why, at the beginning of the 21st century, so much of the best modern reggae and dub was being produced in Berlin -- a city as far removed, in about every possible way, as it is possible to be from Jamaica. Whatever the explanation, Noiseshaper (aka Axel Hirn and Flo Fleischmann) continue to assert the city's dominance with this, the duo's third full-length album. In the past, Noiseshaper have worked with a variety of singers and DJs, but for Rough Out There they decided to stick primarily with a very fine singjay named Juggla, who brings conscious lyrics, an impressive flow, and a passable singing voice to Noiseshaper's modern roots grooves. While the group does a fine job with such straight-ahead reggae material as "Walls of Silence" and the conscious dancehall wiggle of "This Is Not a Gunthing," they really stand out on more experimental fare, such as the dark and soulful "Walking" (featuring singer Jackie Deane) and the languid "Perdido." The album's final track is a wonderful remix of Carl Douglas' disco-kitsch classic "Kung Fu Fighting." Highly recommended.

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