For the uninitiated, Hiatus Kaiyote are a foursome out of Melbourne that rightfully describe themselves as purveyors of 'multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster shit'.
Debut album 'Tawk Tomahawk' was a lesson in just that - perhaps unguided at times, but thrilling for that exact same reason. Despite a relatively low profile at the time, the Flying Buddha release was rewarded with a Grammy nomination for 'Best R&B Performance' courtesy of LP highlight, 'Nakamarra' (featuring Q-Tip) in 2013.
Second time round, things seem more structured. That hasn't resulted in a project that's reined in or in any way more caged than its prequel. Far from it. In fact, 'Choose Your Weapon' takes on the feel of a better travelled nomad. It's a project pad stitched together after two world tours, written in various locations and wondrously diverse as a result. Homages to everything from samba, blues-led scatting, prog rock (a la Gentle Giant), funk and percussive soul are still there in abundance.
The difference is how succinctly the 18 tracks flow from start to finish as a body of work. 'Choose Your Weapon' is refreshingly varied on more than one axis. Time signatures skip and dance between chorus and verse, instruments overlap harmoniously and Nai Palm's vocals are a constant source of measured acrobatics atop it all.
Take cuts like 'Breathing Underwater' where Palm's guitar noodling and vocal pirouetting are backed by the band constantly hopscotching grooves with ease. 'Molasses' simply feels amazing - groovy as ever and brimming with sunshine and whiffs of summer. Props must go to bassist Paul Bender for really stepping to the fore with silky handiwork on the four strings.
The album's weakest points come in the shape of some unnecessary interludes that only act as murky limbos between its better parts. 'Swamp Thing' is perhaps unfortunately named with this in mind. Other than that, Hiatus Kaiyote have put together a project that is both vibrant and uninhibited in its nature. The perfect accompaniment for anything vaguely summer-tinged.
Words: Errol Anderson
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