Imagine, the chance to travel through a warp gate to a funky dimension that seems familiar like a childhood memory, but carries that sense of discovery like the first panoramic view of a newly discovered planet. An album was recorded recently that paints that picture, and was built with so many neo soul layers, it really does feel like the album can be split into two parts just so you can take a breather.
From the title track Choose Your Weapon, Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote treats listeners to a hand held guild to what you would hope to find on the other end of a Stargate. Loading with movie intro-like fanfare, it descends quietly down to a world slightly reminiscent of Oz, relics from our world bouncing around, sounds of our youth about the scene. The oddly timed but easily followed beat drops, and you gain your footing in this world.
Slipping into track two, Shaolin Monk Motherfunk winds into a jungle jazz funk infusion of the highest order, as the lead guide, guitar player, and siren singer Nai Palm orders you to drop into her love trap. She takes the listeners hand, and comforts with:
“The lines on your palm cry out to be cloaked with the steady compass of my own”. Here the specific emotional lover’s tone is set and remains throughout the album. Emotions are worn on both sleeves through this record by all involved, but you’re encouraged to do so too.
All the while, Paul Bender drives the tour hovercraft through the dense landscape. The band keeps swinging left to right, providing what feels like that long stretch after a beautiful road trip drive. Tired at first, then awake and ready with adrenaline and lungs full. You get to know your neighbors and acclimate to the climate of the world around you.
You take anthropological notes on paper as Laputa begins of what you see around you, which coincidently feels just like the story it shares a name with. Breathing is slowed and you finally admire the colors, and the strange warped properties pulling in every direction, as does Simon Mavin’s keys over backwards guitar and booming tribal percussion. The booms rock so loud it knocks you out.
You wake to the first interlude, Creations Part 1, on a beach with blinded eyes from the sun. Seagulls call to each other and laugh at the tourists in your cadre. Strolling down to the water, Nai Palm strolls to the water line, and sings a song while being cradled by standup bass in Borderline with My Atoms. There are no inhibitions here, and you’re encouraged to strip down to the words of a connection attuned down to the core.
You’re invited to shake off the sorrow as a submarine surfaces slowly ahead of her. Breathing Underwater lets us do just that, floating through a peculiar groove pocket unheard in an album in this fashion for quite a long time. Particularly the instrumental breaks between verses with melting keys alongside high-treble, extra funky filtered bass at the 1:20 mark and beyond. It feels good to have the cymbals in high play to stop the vertigo feeling.
After returning to the service and gaining your bearings via Cicada interlude, your guides seem to find what feels like an anti-gravity concert hall near the port during Swamp Thing and test their chops live. The mics are dusted off, and piano tuned up. The bass is dirty through the amp, but the kick on the drums is strong, and it carries the party. That outfit you packed for the night hours finally comes out as you dance and tables are set for the evening of being on Hiatus.
Before you sit down though, the champagne arrives on the dance floor from technicolor wait staff, you catch eyes with that cute thang you sat next to on the tour as Fingerprints comes on, and you start to cut a rug together. As this song carries on with an R&B feel, lyrics of rebirth of the female phoenix spirit with renewed wisdom play heavy, a theme so prevalent in so many good friends of mine. Every listener has something to relate to, and yet something new to find.
The first half of the album winds down with the piano intro of Jekyll, the 10th track. Heavy intro, then slowed down to show you a groove and really seduce you as the bubbles settle in. Long looks into the eyes of your new lovers, and hand holding under tables for shy ones still sitting down. Others slow dance with foreheads touched.
Before long though, everyone returns to their feet with a latin flavored vigor at the 1:45 mark. You’re not even sure how you know how to dance so well, but everyone plays along to the rhythm, and random shakers and clappers pop off through the jam center of the track.
Before breaking for the intermission, the funk core is brought back full force for the latter third of Jekyll, with a mantra of “Least this here, now, sweet peace of mind. Awake this flight\Always in flight”, to calm the mind before the second act.
I leave the second half from the Prince Minikid interlude instrumental and on to you, but don’t miss hyper energy tracks like Atari or heart pumping feel-good funk track Molasses. Even more important, don’t miss them on their upcoming US tour in October, with the first of two Los Angeles dates already sold out at the El Rey Theatre.
Learning about the perplexingly talented bands in the world like Hiatus Kaiyote is refreshing, and hopefully I’ll see you at that show with the Aussie funkified tech wizards.
Until next time my friends,