Up Bustle & Out City Breakers — 18 Frames Per Second

These original style Ninja Tuners dip even further into the "nu dub” hybrid of reggae and club-wise beats. They’ve always had a multicultural, dubby vibe ever since the glory days of trip-hop, but at this point, the range of influences they’re exploring is well-minded territory, so the stakes are higher to achieve a truly different sound. UBO have more songwriting ideas this time out, rather than the lazy, jammy hodgepodge that was their last album, Urban Evacuation. This disc retains some of its predecessor’s Spanish influences, but the beats are tighter this time out. There is a wide range of samples from classic reggae, Brazilian and jazz dance tunes all arranged in a crisp production that doesn’t linger on bottom-heaviness. As with much dub intended for the dance floor, the bass lines are precisely deployed rather than being the raison d’etre of the mix, befitting the faster tempos of the tunes. Vocally, Ras Jabulani contributes the most to this record; his authoritative poetry enlivens "City Breakers” and "500 CC Revolutionary,” adding a much needed sense of dread to a sometimes overly poppy mix. Nevertheless, this disc works best as an early evening vibe rather than the dead of night. Ultimately, the brightness of the production and the quick tempos undermine the reggae content. The bubbling keyboards, melodica lines and EQ sweeps come across as forced, sounding more like Tosca than Jamaica. But when the beats are up to it, as in "Dance Your Troubles Away” and "Grass Skirts,” this is a kinetic experience. (Collision — Cause of Chapter 3)