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The Herbaliser 

Take London (Ninja Tune)

You can mostly attribute the mod '60s, "Nancy Drew-theme-song" style of the Herbaliser's latest disc to the group's recording process. British DJs Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba composed original jazz licks for the album, blending clanky horn parts with elastic bass lines and reverbed electric strings. Then they sliced and diced those grooves in a sampler to make loops that sound cribbed from unknown acid-jazz bands or pulpy television theme songs.

Take London's most innovative track, "Generals," is a militant march punctuated by snare rolls and clamorous Sousa-style horns. Featuring Trap Clappa, Cheech Marina, Daddy Mills, AK, MacGuyver, and Jean Grae (but sounding as if it could be just Jean Grae, exhausting her repertoire of funny voices), the tune is too tweaked-out and strident to really please the ear. Even so, it still commands your attention. As a matter of fact, Grae is actually the best part of the album: Kicking down her verbal three-card monte on four tracks, this New York-raised femme fatale proves that, eight years after debuting as What What on the Herbaliser's 1997 joint Blow Your Headphones, she can still take London with flair.

More by Rachel Swan

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