If you haven’t yet had the unique pleasure of riding the Hiatus Kaiyote future soul trip-train, then you need to stop, take a very considered moment to reassess your life decisions, and prepare yourself; because Choose Your Weapon has arrived, and it is easily the most ridiculous eye-opening adventure you will take this year! (sorry Eurotrip 2k15).
Driven by front-woman/vocal virtuoso Nai Palm and co-conducted by drummer Perrin Moss, synth player Simon Mavin, and multi-instrumentalist/composer Paul Bender, it’s one hell of a journey! So, drop everything and GTF on board, as the quartet of Melbourne north-siders and cool-defining pioneers, launch full speed ahead with this – their second album.
Following their critically acclaimed 2013 LP Tawk Tomahawk, Choose Your Weapon is double the length and double the content. A 70-minute scenic route, the LP seeks to unearth an exciting hidden location somewhere between jazz-fusion and neo-soul.
Travelling at irregular speeds through hip-hop, gospel, R&B, prog. rock, MPB, funk, synthpop, and chiptune, it’s a bumpy ride to say the least, but leaves in its wake an undeniable buzzing joy that continues to murmur beyond the final song.
With its constant yet inconsistent twists and turns, it may be unsettling to newcomer passengers who may have missed the “please hold on: sudden stops are sometimes necessary” overhead warning signs. The album rides a track seldom travelled, warning even the regular frequenters to buckle up and hold on tight, for you’re never fully certain of what’s to come.
The entire ride of Choose Your Weapon is a great mystery unfolding, as one abrupt ending swiftly transforms into another, and chaos continues to arise and subside. The album’s spontaneity, at times, may irritate and confuse, but it’s a welcome breath of fresh air and entices the senses with every listen. Through it can be chopping with many breakbeats, tempo changes, crescendos and diminuendos, each of the album’s 18 experiential tracks present new and exciting thematic explorations and experimental techniques, that broaden not only the band’s musical scope, but the limits of their associated musical genres.
The album’s lead single ‘By Fire’, landed the band their first spins on Triple J last year, sparking a continuation of overwhelming critique, following the unjustly modest home coverage of their Grammy nominated 2013 track ‘Nakamarra’.
This five-minute track epitomises the abrasive and intrusive manner in which a Choose Your Weapon track can leave you simultaneously confused, and utterly bewildered, as your favourite groove is suddenly cut short and replaced by a percussive breakbeat, or a gospel section is pushed aside by some new age synth hook.
‘By Fire’ opens with a funky distortion of an 8-bit arcade-game-reminiscent sound that supplies a backdrop to Palm’s mimicking vocal hums, with a subtle tickling drum beat to keep an off-tempo pulse and build to a huge big sound gospel crescendo. The exciting preliminary introduction though, is of course abruptly (neigh I say it, unfortunately) ended, by some percussive pop that hops about the singer’s vocal scales. However, just as quickly as you may pipe up about losing that awesome opening section, you will more than likely fall steadfast in love with its replacement direction, and as the song ascends and descends, it gets more and more interesting and you cannot help but listen to it again.
Choose Your Weapon is an uncertain journey with an unknown destination, but there’s no denying that once you’re on board, there is no getting off. An unprecedented musical syncopation, Choose Your Weapon is an off-the-beaten-track album like no other, that validates and certifies Hiatus Kaiyote as one of the most daring and utterly refreshing acts of our time.
Choose Your Weapon is out now via Sony Music Entertainment.