The Herbaliser There Were Seven

The HerbaliserThere Were Seven
While those jewel-encrusted major label thugs are out there chasing down the next Auto-Tune gimmick, London, UK's infamous Herbaliser take it back to where it all began. There Were Seven remembers a time when samples were dug from crates, not factory libraries, when beats went boom-bap and when MCs made their name on ability and substance, rather than mere style and controversy. This album is no frozen time capsule though. Taking four years to follow up their last studio release, Same As It Never Was, an album that pushed the Herbaliser sound into a breezier funk direction, care of the Easy Access Orchestra and singer Jessica Darling, There Were Seven is a ballsy return to the heavy, heady Herbaliser heard throughout their first five albums. Of course, the funk is still very much alive on instrumental tracks like the flute-driven "Take 'Em On" and the organ-laden "Setting Up," while Hannah Clive's breathy, distorted crooning on "The Lost Boy" hits a spot between Darling's groove and Seaming To's operatic titular track from 2002's Something Wicked This Way Comes. But the three tight flows from Twin Peaks and character-defining turns from Teenburger and George the Poet are every bit as charged as the group's previous rhymes with Roots Manuva, MF Doom and Jean Grae, paired with genre diverse, cinematic instrumentals that reinforce the street level impact of the record. There Were Seven may not be much of an evolution, but it still feels like revolution. (Department H)