- Artist: The Dingees
- Album: The Rebel Soul Sound System
- Genre: Ska/Reggae/Electronic
When I was first directed to music by a band calling itself "The Dingees", I expected little. And let me make something clear, these guys can't sing all that well. But the production, ye gods, the production.
I get ahead of myself. I don't know a lot about The Dingees, other than they're apparently usually a pretty straightforward ska band. They're not that here. D'n'B, Reggae, Ska, Punk, and even hip-hop blend into a greasy, grimy mix. The opening track sets the tone, but the second, "Test the Champ" really sets it off, there's a Reggae groove off to the side, but synthesizers and brass twirl around underneath that and the vocals, making the whole thing some sort of delicious musical stew. And a tasty stew it is. The vocals aren't great, but they're emotional, and while I normally do not extol honesty over proficiency, here, it works, and it works well
. It's hard to understand lead singer Pegleg if you're not too familiar with the Jamaican accent, so it can be hard to discern the underlying emotions of the songs. But what is abundantly clear is how powerful
those emotions are a guitar near the end, followed by a stumbling percussion, marks "Test the Champ" as among this album's best songs.
The following "Blackout!" opens with a hypnotic, heavy drum beat. Accompanied by what sound like flutes and possibly synthesizers, and rather disappointingly, it then segues into a rather generic ska/punk song. It's still good for what it is, but this isn't "Test the Champ". "Street vs. State/Global Tribal" follows. Starting with another drum beat and a sound collage of what sounds like a protest, the drums then pick up, and then drop out, with someone shouting about not believing what 'they' say. Cue the horn/drum combo of a trumpet player's wet dream, the vocals here aren't bad either. The production here is a smidge cleaner than on the rest of the album. And the distinct reggae groove appears again, along with a sample of some girls saying something I cannot make out. A synthesizer breakdown almost resembles synthesizer music, but the reggae groove remains throughout, even when the singer mentions Drum N Bass.
The next track is another disappointing generipunk piece, "Capital Imperial". You can tell the vocalist cares about what he's singing about, but it's not good enough of a song for you
to care about what he's singing about. And the lampshading of "GUITAR SOLO!" is annoying. Luckily this particular track is rather short.
The opening moments of "Still on the Move" closely mirror, of all the things in the world, the opening of No Doubt's "Underneath it All", this isn't to say the two songs are really all that similar, though, they diverge soon after. With a female background singer, and the return of the reggae groove. The song chugs along at an easy pace, and is alltogether more reggae inspired than most of what's here. "Port Royal Sound" begins with the sampling of a seagull, before breaking into another uptempo track. It's not quite the generic punk of the album's lowest moments, but it's not great either. Though it does end nicely, with a melancholy reprise.
"Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment" starts with an acoustic guitar, there's not a lot going on in this song. Some guitars, and not a lot else aside from the vocals and a harmonica that shows up. Make no mistake, this is a good song, there's just not a lot to describe here. There is much to describe, however, in "Smoke Signals". It opens with a flute, and then a saxophone and some jazzy drums. Completely alien from the rest of the album. After a flourish, synthesizers come in, and then, an only then, do the vocals show up. Of course, they drop back out after another sax interlude, and more synths show up. The song goes in this same, relentless, hypnotic pattern. Making for one of the ablum's more entertaining tracks, and then it breaks into solo after solo. The entire dizzying array is rather difficult to describe, but it is dazzling, and in my humble, amazing.
"Who Stole The Soul in Rock N Roll?" Opens with a sample collage, and then it goes into some stunning guitar, before breaking into a riff....backed by turntable scratches. Because this wasn't shaping up to be awesome enough. The vocals here are not only 'actually good' they're damn
good, and the guitar/turntable combination is simply amazing, keep in mind this is all in the first minute or two. And then.....Chuck D shows up
. Technically, this his verse sampled from "Rebel Without A Pause" but that doesn't make its seemless integration here any less abso-fucking-lutely amazing
. Another rapper shows up, briefly as well, but his verse is less impressive. If there is a "best case" for more turntable/guitar combinations, it's this song. It really just is.
"I'll B'Neath the Canopy" opens with orchestral music off to the right. Before merging with a synth, guitars, and some dirty Dn B
-influenced percussion. I could go on about the album closers, but I think you get the message.
To get a feel for this album, listen to: "Who Stole The Soul in Rock N Roll?" and "Smoke Signals"