Horace X


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This British band has been around a while, but Sackbutt is Horace X's American debut -- and very accomplished it is too. Seen live they're very visual, dressing in dayglo clothes and performing under black lights. But that's irrelevant when it comes to recording -- the question becomes strictly musical. And they're equally vivid there. There's plenty of dancehall, especially in the vocals from Simon Twitchin and Professor X, but they're also, well, a bit of everything. Hazel Fairbairn brings some Irish into the mix with the fiddle, while horns hint at soul, jazz, dance music, and even a little bit of Indian. Voice samples pop in and out of the mix (such as Margaret Thatcher's on "Blind Eye"). There's a great deal going on here -- many layers to be plumbed -- yet the album flows easily. In other words, it's an album for the new United Kingdom of the 21st century, and completely international, but happily avoiding the dreaded 'worldbeat' tag by virtue of having strong groundings in many of the traditions from which they draw. There's plenty of intelligence and integrity within the band, and they pull no punches musically (as "Mr. Simms -- Vampire Mix" shows). And while they rarely get to show virtuosic talents, the musicians can play. Their sense of history extends to punk, and "Dreams -- Half Empty" nods more than a little to the class of '77. A band with a great future -- and from the footage on the enhanced portion of this CD -- a remarkable live act.

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