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  King Kooba Indian Summer
Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5

by David Dahl

The smooth nu-jazz sound of King Kooba comes via the UK's soulful duo, Charlie Tate and Matt "DJ Shuff" Harris. As seasoned innovators of urban music, Tate has played bass with everyone from Neneh Cherry to James Brown, and Harris has held residences playing hip-hop and drum and bass since 1990.

Indian Summer, their fourth release together, is an eclectic mix of lounge that takes various cues from hip-hop, house, r&b, drum and bass, and a refined version of acid jazz. The album seeps into a tranquil flow with "Honey Locust (feat. Melissa Heathcoat)". Heathcoat's vocals soothe over clean beats, lush with bongos and rolling bass. The sound is in contrast with the slightly dirtier hip-hop vibe from Kooba's 2000 release Nufoundfunk. "Barefoot (feat. Roots Manuva)" will only appeal to the hardcore fans of Roots Manuva. The soft radiant music created by King Kooba seems interrupted by Roots Manuva's irritating groans and moans. But if you dig his vocal style, you'll probably like him on this. If not, skip track six. The jewel of Indian Summer is "Blue Mosque," which combines and contrasts the haunting sounds of Middle-Eastern vocals and beats with chopped down jazz and hip-hop beats. Too bad it's so short.

Downtempo styles can get unnecessarily repetitive and utterly exhausting. Indian Summer, however, is a refreshing reminder of how intelligent and attractive this music can be.

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