The latest self-titled release from the local dub/electronica collective Rhombus contains pretty much all the essential elements that have come to define the group over the past eight years. It’s tightly produced; it bends genres – such as reggae, soul, downbeat and hip hop; and it features an eclectic range of local and international vocalists, such as Rashi Malik, Lisa Tomlins, Antsman, Mana and the Jamaican duo of Junior Kelly and Ranking Joe.  As you’d expect, this formula has produced plenty of good tunes.

Babylon Retreat, which features legendary roots deejay Ranking Joe, is a real highlight. With that top ranking deejay on the mic it’s hard to go wrong – and Rhombus fully utilize his rolling rrrub-a-dub style on a firmly reggae-orientated track that shifts seamlessly from a one drop riddim to hard-stepping ska.

Keeping with the JA theme, Royalty with Junior Kelly is another clear stand-out. Prior to this track I hadn’t been overly impressed with Kelly’s sing-jay stlye – he’s always struck me as a bit cheesy. But Kelly’s voice seems to hold much more depth behind this reflective trip hop riddim.

I was also particularly partial to Pinata, a dub-heavy instrumental which bounces along in a haze of bass, echo, and organ. But there were some less impressive tunes.

The aptly named Losing it sees Rhombus try their hand at the reggae drum and bass fusion. Done well, this fusion can produce brilliant results (for instance have a listen to anything off the Digital Soundboy label), but this track just sounds a bit silly to me.

There are also a couple of other breakbeat tracks that didn’t exactly tickle my fancy, particularly Prize Fighter which almost sounds akin to ‘booty bass’, a genre of unspeakable horrors that emerged in Miami in the early 90’s.

However I won’t dwell on the negatives too much. All in all this is a pleasant (if a little inoffensive) addition to the growing list of kiwi dub albums.

Naram