17. Equiknoxx, 'Bird Sound Power'
Jamaica's Equiknoxx turn more than 30 years of dancehall music upside down while losing very little of its visceral, grinding appeal. The production crew plumb traditional low-end and wind-ready rhythms with a decidedly post-modern ear for broken-sounding samples and errant noises (cawing birds, slurping turntable fuzz, synthwave pillows). It's dancehall painted by Picasso — the rhythms are familiar, but the snares splat ("Clunk") or splut like wet cardboard ("I Really Want to Write on Her Purple Wall"); melody lines are more like marimba patterns (Porridge Should Be Brown Not Green") or clanking cans ("Clink"). Part the Bug, part J Dilla, part Flying Lotus, part King Tubby, Bird Sound Power is a dark, demented journey that still grooves from top to bottom. C.W.