Bus: Feelin' Dank

On Feelin' Dank, Tom Thiel and Daniel Meteo wisely choose not to tamper with the formula of their last Bus trip Middle of the Road; the Berlin producers again retain the services of fireball MC Soom-T (a member of the Glasgow crew Monkeytribe) and, given the key contribution she makes to Bus's sound, the prominent display of her name on the album cover is no accident. In fact, she appears on ten of the album's thirteen songs and is joined in a couple of cases by fellow MC Rhino; Gonzales-collaborator Paul PM appears too. There's no question that the pairing of Soom-T with Thiel and Meteo is ideal; her voice is distinctive and her talents wide-ranging, and a song like “The Answer” proves she's as capable of taking a soulful singing turn as dropping rapid-fire flow.

Interestingly, after she recorded most of her vocals during a two-week visit, Thiel and Meteo then spliced them into different contexts. You'd never know it, though, from how naturally the vocals mesh with Bus's dub-funk backings. Her jerky attack dominates the hand-clapping skank of the dub lurch “Diamond in the Rough” while a subdued Kraftwerk synth melody slithers through its background, and she effectively trades verses with Rhino over the lurching stutter-funk of “One Step Forward.” Are there other changes to the group's distinctive dub, hip-hop, and electronic fusion? Aside from the presence of extra MCs, a hint of dancehall infuses “Psychotic Episode” and the nimble dub-funk of “Twistin' (Bus in the Mix)” while a subtle dose of hip-hop merges with curdling dub-funk in “Don't Change It.” Of the few instrumentals, the dubby flavoured head-nodder “Wheel” stands out for its deep funk drum pulse.

The album does have some weak moments but they're few and far between: Rhino's delivery pales next to Soom-T's on “Psychotic Episode” and the repetitive dub groove of “My Night” (featuring the vocals of Ras T-Weed of the Birmingham-based Overproof Soundsystem) amounts to little more than a too-long, aimless jam. If Feelin' Dank isn't perfect, it's still a satisfying enough ride.

June 2005