Full Price (69 mins)
Various Artists Polska Rootz Eastblok EBM015 69mins (Full Price) **
There are a few small labels out there digging in the crates for hidden slices of Central and East European funk, ska, jazz and hip-hop: Eastblok, operating out of Berlin, are one who consistently come up with the goods. For this latest compilation, they turn to the Polish drumnbass reggae roots dub scene, and manage to dig up some real gems. The liner notes report that Poland was the only East European country in the 80s with an active reggae scene, although only one record – the brilliant and utterly mad “Twinkle Inna Polish Stylee” by the Twinkle Brothers feat. Tribunie Tutki – ever gained much attention beyond its borders. That record’s expansive On-U-Sound dub-meets-Polish-mountain-village-fiddling soundclash – a studio session rumoured to have been hastily set-up in lieu of payment for a Twinkle gig – has long been a Polish underground classic, and it’s good to see ‘Pierso Godzina’ featured here. Elsewhere the quality is fairly consistent: DJs and radios will like the catchy vocal hooks and rock-solid ska riffs of opening track ‘Kołomyka Jarocińska’; ‘Kiebyś Ty’ from Zakopower is another storming vocal track - its excellent Seth Lakeman style rhythm fiddling and rousing chorus will be a real find for fans of the Warsaw Village Band, whose remixed track ‘Joint Venture Inna Village’ is a driving, tribal violin-based floor-filler. The compilation is let down in places by forays into cheap-sounding drumnbass, like ‘XXI.Wiek.’ by Masala Soundsystem, but overall there is more than enough here to keep curious listeners happy.