New Flesh Understanding

This audacious sophomore effort from the group formerly known as New Flesh for Old continues the wave of challenging hip-hop emanating from the UK, specifically from the Big Dada roster. Unlike some of the ponderous elements that inhabited some of their earlier material, Understanding maintains a relentlessly experimental edge yet draws on a broad soulful palette. Producer Part2's incorporation of mild drum & bass ("Zero Gravity") dancehall riddims ("More Fire") and fractured UK soul ("Transition") forms the basis of New Flesh's shape-shifting sounds and it's the perfect fodder for New Flesh's versatile vocalists. Toastie Tailor, in particular, impresses, as he's equally apt to contribute ragga lyrics as he is to drop sugar sweet vocals. MC Juice Aleem provides able support, teaming up with Roots Manuva on "Norbert & Cecil." Other guests recruited into New Flesh's world include Beans (of Anti Pop Consortium), but the top guest appearance has to go to Blackalicious's Gift Of Gab for his mercury-tongued performance on the stunning "Communicate." At times, especially in the excursions with pioneering hip-hop MC/graffiti artist Rammelzee, things tend to go off the rails, underlining the tendency of Understanding to veer from maddeningly catchy to gratingly abrasive. Thankfully, the latter isn't over-represented and this talented collective have come up with a leftfield triumph. (Big Dada)