Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: Pyrotechnist "Fire Crackers"

The album cover features an illustration of firework-like explosions emanating from the album's title.Badasonic Records (available in the USA through Fatbeats)

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Fire Crackers is the really excellent second LP from Pyrotechnist (read The Duff Guide to Ska review of their debut here), the brainchild of two former members of the now defunct Belgian ska-soul band The Moon Invaders--Nico Leonard on drums and keys (and the album was produced at his Pum Pum Hotel studio) and Pierre Haegeli on bass and guitars, plus Rolf Langsjoen on trumpet and David Loos on saxophones. While Fire Crackers ostensibly is a dub record, it's not spacey, stripped-down, stoner dub, but filled with catchy, dubby reggae instrumentals in the Jackie Mittoo, Upsetters, Prince Fatty, and Victor Rice realm (though all cuts are originals by Leonard or Leonard/Haegeli). "Blazing Commando" is funky and propulsive and could easily fill dance floors whenever you put it on (and it's versioned a little later on the album in a slightly Latin style as "El Torro"). The wonderful Skatalites-like "Lady Fingers" (think "El Pussy Cat Ska") features some beautiful piano lines and trumpet improvisation, while the sunny Dave and Ansel Collins-y "Boomer Special" is absolutely guaranteed to brighten your mood if you're down. "Red Devil" is a widescreen spaghetti Western reggae track with a wicked melody performed on melodica and "Big Stick" is a Henry "Junjo" Lawes-styled riddim readymade for some early '80s dancehall style toasting a la Yellowman and Fathead. Even though we're still early in 2020, Pyrotechnist's Fire Crackers already is one of the top ska/reggae albums of the year--it's that good!

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