Attempts to cross over into R&B by go-go vets Troublefunk and E.U. in the ’80s sounded forced and syrupy; go-go combo Optimystic Tribe sounds more distinctive on The Awakening when its vocalists rely on their church-rooted timbres rather than simply chanting in traditional go-go style. Although much of this Liaison-distributed CD, produced by longtime engineer Charles Fenwick, documents the usual recitation of borrowed hiphop catch phrases and call-and-response exhortations to various neighborhoods, the single, “Downtown,” with its scratchy bass picking, gospelly vocals, and muted polyrhythms, is both radio-friendly and aesthetically challenging. (SK)

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