Various 21st Century Ska

My stars. Just when you thought ska had become tired, stale and dull; kidnapped, mutated and pillaged by meatheads, leave it to the UK club DJs to reinvigorate it with a wildly unique and unheard of new blend. Dub, ragga and ska meet hip-hop, techno and house in this almost entirely instrumental compilation, and it works extremely well. Not since Bad Manners' "This is Ska" have I heard ska songs, complete with offbeats and guitar skanks, sampled and toyed with so effectively. The artists are, I admit, entirely unknown to me: LL Nino, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Freaky Jalapeno, Subculture Soundsystem, Fat Stack. While I doubt "Skip-Skop" or "Skouse" will enter the popular musical lexicon, this strong and rhythmically-based comp may be yet another offshoot and merger between two distinct, yet highly complimentary genres. Ska as genuine dance music (moshing is not dancing) has been fading for years, and this evolutionary step may yet bring it back into the clubs and dancehalls where it belongs. (M21)