Mungo’s Hi Fi meets Kenny Knots: Brand New Bangarang

Mungo’s Hi Fi, the Glasgow sound system pioneers, have established a formidable reputation for their live sound and for their ability to reproduce the feel of a live performance on some vital releases for their Scotch Bonnet label (see earlier review at 2nd November 2011).

This new album gives us another instalment of their unique take on reggae and dancehall, filtered once more through their characteristic full-on sound-system approach. This time partnered with Kenny Knots, the results are striking. Some of the tracks are very much in the dancehall tradition, notably Brand New Bangarang itself, and along the way One Life to Live and Rock Inna Dancehall. But there are several other things happening here too. She Got Love for Me is melodic reggae with some dubstep twiddlings going on under the surface, while Sweet Meditation and Gimme Gimme are, at heart, old-school reggae tunes given the Mungo makeover of deepest electronic bass and tightest rhythm. Word Sound and Power (featuring Mikey Murka) is a slower reggae song in a deejay style. The album closes on an unusual and powerful note, So Me Stay held together by a sparse and anthemic electronic sound that will be widely and loudly heard.

For those familiar with Mungo’s Hi Fi, two things are surprising in this release: the masterful vocal contribution of Kenny Knots and the strength and power of the songs themselves. It takes the sound system beyond its previous boundaries and, more important, it manages to expand the scope of contemporary reggae. And for those unfamiliar with Mungo’s Hi Fi – well, start here.

Formats: CD (with two bonus tracks), vinyl and DDL, released May 2013 on Scotch Bonnet Records.

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