Thursday, 18 May 2017

Hiatus Kaiyote "Choose Your Weapon" (2015)

Now here's a record I never knew I needed! Four piece Australian Jazz Rock outfit Hiatus Kaiyote's second album came as a personal recommendation from the Ren-diggidy-dawg a while back and Its been on repeat ever since! The 80s aesthetic of the cover art says little to the flavor of the music but maybe volumes to the vibrant individualistic style and character the band posses. Fusing aspects of Funk, Jazz, Soul and Progressive Rock, the group take on their inspirations with an articulate voice and inspired artistic freedom.

The result? A classy musical indulgence soaked in the haze of competing instruments that bring every moment to life with their collaboration. Where direction is often led through syncopation and repetition, Hiatus take the other path and fill your cup with the spice of variety as each instrument helps color the canvas of every passing moment. The depths can be felt as each song is layered in instrumentation of which any could be the lead instrument. It brings the core songs to life as never a dull moment presents itself, we are always in the presence of animated instrumentation fighting for our attention and rarely letting one another take center stage.

The percussion brings a mix of flavors to fight for your interest. While holding the driving backbone of tempo down, a liveliness is felt in the range of sounds emerging, an expansive kit loaded with intricacies fleshes out the core rhythm with a constant energy for subtle polyrhythms, grooves, shuffles and vibrant fills. Alongside the drums guitars and synths play a similar roll of never settling for a simple and linear path, each instrument always has something to contribute, either an accent or added dimension to the songs density and trajectory. Especially the synths which make passionate use of the endless manipulation that knobs and dials can do to expand horizons and evolve the sound from a singular textured experience.

The record never stays in one place, its wild and free flowing nature has the carpet pulled from your feet right as your feeling settled. The grooves shuffle, the melodies swoon, the atmosphere sways and lights up the night with its charm but the fire starting spark of magic comes from singer Nai Palm. Her breathy voice has the range to stride with power, then whisper in the next utterance. If there is a lead here, it is her artsy voice that always rises to the top with its flair and quirk to remain fully motioned, never settling on a steady note and often adding inflections in time with the punch line of the drum beat. Its an instrument of its own, as animated and vibrant as any of the others. Some of her best moments come from the ditching of words as she devolves into the melody, free of conventional constraints, it reminds me of a child dancing, free of judgement from anyone, especially herself.

For all its merit, not everything attempted here will be to everyone's taste. Its strength is variety, which comes in a large engulfing dose. There is never a stale moment but the constant shifting and shuffling from one idea to the next doesn't always strike the charm the majority of it does and can move on you as your settling in. No bad words to be said, just that the genius chemistry these musicians have is really milked into every corner of the record. At just under seventy minutes its got so much to offer, a real cracker that's got to be the best thing Ive heard so far this year.

Favorite Tracks: Shaolin Monk Motherfunk, Breathing Underwater, By Fire, The Lung
Rating: 9/10


  1. Hey X, thx for sharing this album! I heard it earlier in a pre-livestream of yours. Love it! Have been listening to it since

  2. Why don't I see the wonders of AC DC, Kiss and iron maiden

    1. Got through there records decades ago :-D