Point being: The more things change, the more they stay the same. And so it goes for this reformation of the "classic" Urban Tribe line-up, the quartet largely responsible for the out-of-print 1996 masterpiece The Collapse of Modern Culture. Listen to Urban Tribe, and you can hear the same concerns at play: Experimental hip-hop (back then it was trip-hop), witch house (no, not the Pitchfork version) and funk. Which is to say the quartet's interests are as multifarious as you'd expect, the product of four guys confident enough to mess around, but also scared enough that they bring only their freakiest material to the table. No Junior Boys remixes, "Freeki Mutha" or "Arise" here.
That's partly down to formatting: Urban Tribe comes on one very slim 12-inch. Only one track reaches over four minutes. More get to three, but they're hardly the stuff that mixing dreams are made of. Something tells me that many of the Tribe members like the idea of the "you're either you're quick or you're dead" mixing scenario. Something tells me that they probably like the fact that you're only going to listen to this at home even more. Nonetheless, plenty will be frustrated by what the sketch-like quality of Urban Tribe, especially when compared to the expansiveness of Collapse.
Aside from the inexorable march of time, that's the major difference between the two records: Whereas Collapse felt like the culmination of something important—a meeting of great musical minds for a brief moment on a label with great distribution in a foreign country—Urban Tribe seems like a "we finally got them in the studio long enough for them to make something!" affair that arrives on the sometimes-tough-to-find, always-more-expensive Mahogani Music. That's not a bad thing. It is a different thing, though, and one that I predict will have less legs than its predecessor.