The Flexatones
Fat Belt Records
March 21, 2008

Track list
  1. Where Is The Love - feat. Earl Sixteen
  2. Push - feat. Molara
  3. Partypeople - feat. Puppa J
  4. Fresh - feat. Nicole Willis
  5. Allah Light - feat. Momo Cat
  6. Hia - feat. Hosni
  7. Cause I Want - feat. Nicole Willis & Papa Zai
  8. Natural Girl - feat. Fruits
  9. Nice Up The Place - feat. Natty Kauka
  10. Break The Ice - feat. Momo Cat & Hosni
  11. Where Is The Dub
  12. V5
  13. Allah Dub
  14. Fresh Version
  15. Silk And Money
  16. Dreaming
  17. Dub The Ice
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3
Both front cover and back sleeve, and in particular the latter with its picture full of snow and ice, surely don't indicate your holding an album that contains music originally coming from a Caribbean island. However once you have inserted the disc in your cd player and pushed the play button the instantly recognizable reggae sound makes you aware that in this case the flag doesn't cover the cargo.

The Flexatones is a three piece musician/producer team from Helsinki, Finland, which consists of Pasi Hartikainen, Pauli Haikarainen, and Lightman. The latter, a multi-talented instrumentalist, already attracted notable attention with his 2004 released debut album "Spring Time". For the "Originals" album, The Flexatones engaged several guest musicians including Petri Kautto on drums and percussion, frequent Caribbean touring veterans Iron Horns a.k.a. Finnish Horns, The Kamus quartet's Jussi Tuhkanen, who plays strings, and trumpeter Visa Haarala from Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Besides that they invited a number of guest vocalists to voice their fresh original riddims, with undoubtedly Jamaican Studio One veteran Earl Sixteen being the best known name on the roll call. With a little help of their various guests, The Flexatones have succeeded in creating a solid and refreshing album on which they expertly combine reggae with shades of jazz, funk, soul and world music.

The album takes off in real fine style with a spacious roots tune, "Where Is The Love", sung by renown Earl Sixteen. The next track, "Push", is performed by soulful female singer Molara, who makes a good impression with this more laidback effort. Finnish reggae sensation Puppa J, known from the compilation "Goodness Gracious ~ Reggae From Finland" and his debut album with Tasottavat "Morobless", delivers the mediocre dancehall flavoured "Partypeople", before Finland's finest soul singer, Nicole Willis, drops the jazzy light-hearted "Fresh". Later on she delivers another, more appealing effort, namely the lovers rock piece, "Cause I Want", a combination tune with deejay Papa Zai, who originates from Zambia.

Arabic influences are heard in the rootsy "Allah Light", which is performed by Moroccan singer Momo Cat, while Hosni's haunting singing in Arabic and the addition of some dramatic strings turn "Hia" into an entertaining piece. Jamaican artist Natty Fruits fails to make a serious impression with the cheerful "Natural Girl", which he performs in genuine 1980's rub-a-dub style. France based Senegalian Natty Kauka makes a slightly better impression with the energetic sounding "Nice Up The Place", but that's about it. Luckily the combination tune done by Momo Cat & Hosni, is a far better and thus more entertaining effort. "Break The Ice" rounds off the vocal part of "Originals" and gives way to the instrumental/dub versions of the seven riddims included on this set; all handmade in Finland!

All in all The Flexatones have delivered an interesting collection of tunes with a few beautiful moments to enjoy.