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Quarashi: Jinx

Andrew Ellis



Label: Sony

The crew have been around for quite some time in their native country, having already released two well-received underground full-length albums, and Jinx is a collaboration of reworked versions of material complete with a few new tracks. The band's brand of hip-hop, industrial rock and urban dance is high tempo, laced with obscure sample after sample and chock full of distorted guitars and funky head-bobbing beats.

Opening with the single "Stick 'Em Up", the Beastie Boys influence is immediately evident, and despite the band being Straight Outta Reykjavik as opposed to Straight Outta Brooklyn, the song sounds like authentic successor to "Sabotage". The '70s funk-sampled "Mr Jinx" follows and the pop flavour this adds to the hip-hop jams makes it easy to see why Columbia Records saw a commercial opportunity in this band, and is a statement of intent that diversity is the keyword here.

"Bassline" throbs with an aggressive, yet melodic intensity whilst "Malone Lives" and the chilled out "Dive In" are the kind of sedate tunes that Moby would no doubt licence to sell cars or other consumer goods if he had written it. Instead of Moby, the brain behind Quarashi is Sölvi Blondal and his thick grooves, melodic sensibilities and often innovative, colourful sampling prove him to be a real talent.

The diversity continues with "Tafur" which is sung in Icelandic and combines a seductive hookline with some edgy rap to provide further distance between the band and other largely homogenized bands of the same ilk. Obviously the re-makes of early Quarashi tunes tend to be more polished and commercially orientated than their predecessors, but the slamming metal crunch of "Copycat" is as raw as this genre gets.

"Transparent Parents" demonstrates further the band's pop influences, before the high energy and (Shaggy sample) of "Weirdo" resumes Quarashi's up-tempo approach. The album closes with the hypnotic urban dance of "Bless" which is reminiscent of Fatboy Slim.

Overall, Jinx is a surprisingly enjoyable and imaginative album that could have across-the board appeal, so well does it use influences of rap, rock and dance amongst its 12 exponents of sound and fury. If it achieves nothing else, it has at least provided a welcome kick-start to a genre that for the most part been creatively stagnant for far too long.

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