Album Review: The Herbaliser / ‘There Were Seven’ (Department-H)


The Herbaliser roll into town again, their horns-and-pipes funk and hip-hop giving off that investigative vibe where the crew hand out magnifying glasses and deerstalkers. Topped up by dub, if you’re aware of their development through albums one to six (it might surprise you that this is only their seventh studio LP), you’re not gonna kick up a stink when their latest plays the game the only way they know how. The group’s patented mysteries and intricacies form a slow swirl of theatricality, leading into mild psychedelics and sometimes salacious entering of red light districts (the writhes of “The Lost Boy”), cutting deals with background music before cutting loose (“Take ‘Em On” and “What You Asked For” spinning at B-Boy face-offs and soul claps), and staying cultish without ever flying over heads.

Continuing to put rappers on who they know will fit their bill, regardless of how much star billing they’ve earned, The Herbaliser lace patient beats giving MCs the freedom to do their thing. Canadians Twin Peaks make a reasonable introduction on “Zero Hill” before going on to entertain on “Crimes and Misdemeanours” and “Danny Glover”, with fellow Canucks Teenburger going ghost-busting on the ’80s-thumbing “March of the Dead Things.” Not quite seventh heaven, but if success is marked by reliability, Jake, Ollie and co. need toasting once again.
File under: DJ Vadim, Blockhead, Belleruche