Melbourne-based outfit Curse Ov Dialect are without a doubt one of the most interesting hip hop acts to emerge from Australia. Their penchant for surreal costumes and onstage theatrics, and their outspoken criticism of Australia’s underlying racism puts them at odds with the endless stream of generic drivel currently being churned out. Instead of weakly mimicking US hip hop, a music intrinsically linked to the culture in which it was born, they instead incorporate their own cultural perspective and experiences into a hip-hop framework.
Over the course of their output the group’s crafted a unique sound. Trawling for samples through psychedelic rock, traditional folk and various electronic oddities, they hold these seemingly disparate elements together with a hip hop backbone courtesy of beat maestro Paso Bionic. The distinctive style of each MC and the interplay between them is another defining element of the Curse, with the rapid-fire delivery of Volk Makedonski, the endearing multiple-personality disorder of Raceless and the ethereal flow of Atarangi all adding to the tapestry.
This formula has struck a chord with local and international audiences alike, with the group’s first two full-length LPs released via Mush Records. At the time, the label was leading the experimental hip-hop charge, repping artists like cLOUDDEAD, Busdriver and Aesop Rock.
Seven years on from last album Crisis Tales,Twisted Strangers finds the group in fine form, picking up where they left off – poignant, politically charged lyrics underpinned by their signature multicultural grooves. Guest spots on the album include Japanese furioso Kaigen and Hemlock Ernst, aka Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands. Herring’s been clocking up notable appearances with a number of indie rap’s finest, including Busdriver and Cavanaugh, and it’s great to count Curse Ov Dialect alongside such luminaries.
Sydney-based producer Gentleforce, aka Eli Murray, first appeared on the scene with his debut album Sacred Spaces, a warm, immersive listen that contrasted sharply with the club nights he was DJing at the time. The album serves as a great introduction – informed by Murray’s wildly eclectic music taste, there are nods to numerous genres, all filtered through his pastoral, downbeat lens.
Sacred Spaces was followed by Looking Through New Window, a long-form live piece created for the monthly experimental sound series ‘Refraction’. Written for a live setting, the release has a more expansive feel, as musical themes drift in and out, dissolving into one another in a blissfully evolving soundscape.
Refuge from The Great Sadness is the latest album from Gentleforce, and it represents a tremendous leap forward for Murray. There’s an epic beauty that reveals itself over the course of the album. From the subtly treated field recordings of ‘Singing over Shibuya’ to the sweeping techno abstractions of ‘You hold my hand through the Gate’, the music consumes you, envelops you in its radiance. And while it’s easy to categorise the music of Gentleforce with labels like ambient or even drone, this belies the bigger picture. There is a sense of grandeur to the music, a majesty that’s uplifting without sounding overwrought or cliché.
Refuge from The Great Sadness is available digitally now.
Sydney trioMaking have been crushing skulls on the Sydney live music scene for a few years now, and after a number of setbacks their full-length debut Highlife was released via Trait Records in September this year.
Following on from their debut EP and a couple of standalone singles, Highlife is a decidedly darker affair full of discordant guitar, razor sharp bass lines and complex rhythms. The album is an uncompromising aural assault, showcasing the band’s evolution both sonically and technically.
Fans of My Disco, Ohana and New York band Extra Life take note; Making are your new favourite band.
For the fifth instalment of the Virtual Mixtape series, the trio reminisce on avant-rap royalty Kool Keith and his somewhat chaotic discography.
Kool Keith is a pretty hard sell in the current rap climate – most people are into Drake and Rich Gang (so are we), but sometimes you need to go a bit more fringe. This video is probably the best intro – really let yourself become acclimatised to the logic at play here.
Kool Keith – ’98 Year Old Refrigerator’:
About ten years ago I (Pete) became aware of Dr. Octagon. I think I ended up picking up Dr. Dooom next (check out his ongoing obsession with food…) The vibe here is split destroying the rap game (this track, ‘You Live At Home With Your Mom’etc.) and brutal serial killer (‘Apartment 223’etc.). Key line:
“Your fans are mad – your performance was garbage bag,
Look at these videotapes,
Walkin back and forth grabbin’ your nuts like the Planet of the Apes”
Perth artist Kučka aka Laura Jane Lowther first appeared on the scene with her self-titled debut EP for New Weird Australiaimprint Wood & Wire. Throughout its brief but fertile life the label was responsible for releasing challenging, forward thinking music across a broad spectrum of genres making it a perfect fit for Kučka’s unconventional brand of electronica. The EPs mix of post dubstep beats, whimsical ambience and off-kilter songwriting revealed an irrefutable pop heart which caught the attention of French label Nuun Records, who quickly set about repackaging the EP to include her much lauded single ‘Phantasy’ and re-releasing it in 2014.
After a number of highly successful singles, a chance but nonetheless high-profile collaboration with A$AP Rocky, and a slew of accolades Kučka now returns with her Unconditional EP released via new Inertia imprint Midnight Feature. The EP shows a refined, mature sound smoothing out some of Kučka’s sharper edges but leaving her eccentricities intact which should appeal to old and new fans alike.
For the fourth instalment in our Virtual Mixtape series Kučka focuses on the fertile music scene of her hometown WA, compiling her five favourite tunes from Perth.
Opening with a repeated harp melody, Lower Spectrum gradually adds pads and a swelling bass synth into the mix and the result is an incredibly beautiful soundscape with cinematic and flowing textures. When the beats eventually drop they are accompanied by an arpeggiated synth creating a frenetic contrast to the track’s beginnings.
Methyl Ethel – ‘Depth Perception’
This track is taken from Methyl Ethyl’s incredible debut album Oh Inhuman Spectacle. Though not a single, this is my favourite track from the release. It begins with warped guitar sounds and hazy samples and gradually builds up with ‘Air’ like chords until the vocals come in towards the end of the track.