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Sunday, January 31, 1999 Published at 12:25 GMT

Entertainment: New Music Releases

CD Review: Black Star Liner

Black Star Liner: Bengali Bantam Youth Experience! (WEA)

Leeds trio Black Star Liner are not the sort of group to limit their sound, not when there's a world of possibilities out there to explore.

Dubbed as part of the Asian Underground movement since their 1996 debut - a label the band themselves dismiss - this second album finds them in an even more experimental mood than before. The result is a kaleidoscope of styles and ideas, often underpinned by beautiful tabla rhythms and bursts of sinewy sitar.

Frontman Choque Hosein has been around a while, having once played in a punk band which supported The Specials. But something tells you that the days of carpet slippers and cosy respectability are still a long way off for the flamboyant late thirty-something.

[ image: Choque Hosein: Punk veteran with an anarchic sense of fun]
Choque Hosein: Punk veteran with an anarchic sense of fun
If anything Choque's advancing years (in pop terms anyway) have simply given him the confidence and carefree attitude to try out anything he wants, often with tongue firmly in cheek - as anyone who has seen the anarchic live shows will testify.

Fellow musicians Tom Salmon and Chris Harrop share his sense of adventure, leaving us with an album of musical nuggets which manage to live up to titles such as Gurdeep's Yellow Funk and Ethnic Suicide of the Volga Boatmen.

The instrumental Sita D gets the album underway in relaxed fashion, thanks to a groove spacious enough to drive a car through, while the vaguely sinister Swimmer is supposedly about Choque's "love hate relationship" with Danny McNamara from Embrace.

The jittery Low BMW gives Choque the chance to try out some manic vocal exercises, in sharp contrast to the sombre atmospherics of later tracks Silvini and Dark Shadow.

And all those years after The Specials support slot, Choque finally gets to pay tribute on the current single Superfly and Bindi, during which the spirit of Ghost Town puts in a more than fleeting appearance.

Nigel Packer

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