The godparents of global grooviness are back with a spring in their step. Londonís Transglobal Underground pioneered mixing dance beats with all kinds of worldly influences some 30 years ago. Havenít done much (in their own name at least) this decade and now return to the fray with an 11-track album featuring members of the Transglobal family old and new (TGU having always been more of a loose collective than a band).
So, itís a welcome return for original bassman Nick Dubulah and vocalist Natacha Atlas. The latter lending her distinctive Middle Eastern flavoured vocals on three tracks here. Most notably the standout "Ruma Jhuma" and the appropriately haunting "Future Ghost." Wordsmith and storyteller TOUP is also present and very much correct, as are percussionist Inder Goldfinger (another original member) and sitarist Sheema Mukherjee.
The sound is a well woven combination of dubby basslines. South Asian, Middle Eastern and North African influences with soul, gospel and electronica. Theyíve never been afraid to get pollical, as here on "The People Carrier" which features the excellent Ingrid Webster (vocalist with TGU spin-off London Zulu) and Dubulahís bass to the fore. But they can also be playful (check out the 1970s TV theme music meets Indian instrumentationí combo of "Polo Neck"). Tunisian vocalist Nawel Ben Kraiem takes the lead on the beautiful "Chants Sans Adresse" and the whole thing closes with the bubbling sanctified "Way Down The River (Part One)" on which Ingrid Webster trades vocals with former Bomb The Bass vocalist Loretta Heywood.
This is an album that finds room for feted UK jazz trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, harpist Julia Thornton and blues guitarist Adam Blake. And in the mix throughout are the multi-instrumental Transglobal backbone of Hamid Mantu and Tim Whelan.
Much of what followed in the wake of TGUís original explorations of ethno-electronica was pretty dire. But you canít really blame them for that. They did it first, they did it best and are pretty much back on top form here - Jamie Renton