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Cool Hipnoise

If you consider dub -- reggae's stoned, stripped-down, echoey instrumental aspect -- the way that producer Lee "Scratch" Perry did when he described it as "x-ray music," you'll see the cosmic cultural humor of Cool Hipnoise's cover of Nirvana's "Come as You Are," which closes its third album, Select Cuts Showcase & More. CH's version betrays the original title's sentiments: Here's a Portuguese groove band's dub version of their skipping-ska treatment of an American grunge anthem (one that, arguably, swiped a bassline from British band Killing Joke). Dub as a sonic practice shines right through -- and dissolves -- pop music's layered boundaries, and it informs Cool Hipnoise's megacultural sound, making Select Cuts a true smorgasbord.

A multi-instrumental trio based in Lisbon, Cool Hipnoise filters Afro-Brazilian, jazz, and soul elements through a modern dub aesthetic that both grounds its music and lends it an airy quality. Tinges of double-time samba percussion pulse beneath the loping half-time dub reggae of "Entre o Sol e a Terra," but the song's keyboard washes, tumbling flute lines, and vocals from guest singer Orlando Santos keep it all balanced. Between the hip-hop mistiness of "Nada a Declarer" and the bossanova dub of "Dois" (featuring the gorgeous vocals of Brazilian avant-funk singer Fernanda Abreu), Select Cuts is brimming with sonic cultural signifiers. And in the hands of British neo-dub producer Nick Manasseh, each Portuguese vocal, samba piano line, and reggae cymbal crash is subject to be tossed into aural infinity in his echo chamber. Cool Hipnoise has found an impressive method of living in this post-cultural era: Bring it all together, and dub it up.

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Ron Nachman

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