Herald rating: * * * *

Given our love for brassy big bands with boom box beats, it's no wonder eight like-minded hip-hop fans came together for this release.

Five years after producer Ota (Jeremy Toy) started messing around with Latin-laced hip-hop, reggae, jazz and soul, Opensouls have turned into a supergroup of sorts, with members of the Krates, Verse Two, Anika Moa's Plastic Tiki Band, Recloose and Solaa.

The lengthy production period probably had more to do with a leisurely approach to recording than a perfectionist ethic - these 16 tracks unfold with the savoured satisfaction of a honeyed crumpet on a Sunday morning.

A party track like Angles has that gutsy spark of the Roots and the warmth of Fat Freddy's Drop. But the emphasis is on the groove, laden with Hendrix-style guitars, bluesy horns and bouncing keys, even if it can sound derivative in parts.

At 16 tracks, the groove tends to dwindle at the three-quarter mark but this is still the most soulful release to come out of New Zealand since a certain Wellington band stormed the charts.