Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon

By their own admission, Melbourne fusion outfit Hiatus Kaiyote concern themselves with making “multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic, gangster shit.” It’s a pretty self-aware statement, and one that becomes even more fully realised with the release of their mesmerising, and impressively complex second record, Choose Your Weapon.

The title itself is also another sly wink – for Hiatus have loaded up as many genres as they could fit in this psychedelic jigsaw of a record. They slip and slide through modern jazz, soul, R&B, West African funk, samba and latin – often in the same song, often in the same verse. The compositions are warm, malleable, but always restless, they constantly abandon and alter ideas (or time signatures, or the key) mid stride. The effect is sometimes dislocating – there’s no room to settle in here – but the eagerness with which Haitus take you down their musical mind routes strips away any disappointment. At 18 tracks, and over 70 minutes long, it’s immersive, demanding attention. Tracks like ‘Borderline With My Atoms’ and ‘Shaolin Monk Motherfunk’ twist and howl, the layers of instrumentation mind boggling. ‘Borderline…’ is lush: singer Nai Palm’s delicate whisperings hover over thrums of bass and shuffled hi hats.

Nai Palm’s vocals are rarely isolated, usually blanketed with harmonies, and she curls her way up and down the register – at times jittery against the percussion, at others relaxed and barely strung together. ‘Jekyll’ is aptly tangled – flipping between Afro rhythms and synth driven melodies. ‘Fingerprints’ is gorgeously silky and – for once – relatively straight forward. They reach peak Haitus with ‘Atari’, a six minute funk feast that builds from spare drums and vocals to furious synth crescendos and tumbling vocal decrescendos and everything in between.

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