Cool Hipnoise

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The third album from this goofily named trio is actually an amalgam of earlier tracks presented in showcase style, each regular version followed immediately by a dub mix (except in the case of the band's cover of Nirvana's "Come as You Are," which is presented in a dub version only). Cool Hipnoise is not strictly a reggae band -- its sound is composed of equal parts reggae, Afro-Brazilian, jazz, and soul elements -- but by bringing famed reggae dubmeister Nick Manasseh on board to mess with the mixes, the group has created a sound that draws on all of those influences while filtering everything through a smoky, mystical groove that sounds utterly unique while still offering familiar touchstones to roots reggae enthusiasts. There are cameo appearances from names as big as the Last Poets (who appear on "C'mon Family") and as small as Marga Munguambe, whose gorgeous Portuguese vocals grace both "Nada a Declarer" and "Mofo," not to mention the even more impressive Fernanda Abreu, whose vocals on "Dois" steal the show. But every song and crazy, dubbed-up instrumental on this album is a delight, and it should be considered essential listening for any fan of adventurous world music. [The CD is sold with an accompanying five-track, 12" vinyl EP, which is not covered in this review.]

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