When Melbourne future r&b-sculptors Hiatus Kaiyote warned the world that, at long last, they were ready to drop new material, temperatures hit fever-level all around the musical world. Now every jazz cat, hip-hop head, folk troubadour and electro-beats-lover can rejoice and give early thanks: their 3-track By Fire EP has arrived.
In an interview with Red Bull Music, frontwoman Nai Palm said that the EP’s leadoff (and titular) track is meant to honor her own father, who passed away tragically. “It’s essentially a burial song for my father, who died in a house fire. He used to make native American jewelry and tipis and stuff and he burnt it all six months before he died. Fire is creative but also destructive, and I wanted to focus on that duality. I also used to be a fire-walker. Our music is pretty layered.”
Pretty layered indeed. In just three tracks Hiatus Kaiyote packs in more dynamite ideas than can be found on almost any other r&b release this year. “By Fire” steadily boils into a synthesized crescendo, with Palm’s vocals rising like incoming radar blips before the crash of its final chorus and eventual echoing decay. “Laputa” wafts back and forth with its hi-hat clatters and pitter-patter vocal delivery, all while keyboardist Simon Mavin envelopes the band in gorgeously filtered synth. It’s the sound of chartreuse smoke inside a shining glass room. Hiatus Kaiyote has never sounded more mysterious–or more mature.
And it all comes home on “Molasses.” Filled with the rhythmic stutters that had their debut LP Tawk Tomahawk dropping jaws, the new EP’s final cut is a fresh update of the braniac hip-hop-jazz-r&b fusion that is by now the band’s definitive sound. “Molasses” grows in volume, tempo and power before it launches itself off a cliff at the halfway point–only to land on its feet with Palm sings “Running with my eyes closed.” The build begins anew as bassist Paul Bender lays hard into fills at every turn, and by the final minute the entire band hits an ecstatic peak of polyrhythms that will leave you breathless. By Fire is breakneck ride from start to finish, the best part being that the band’s new full length, Choose Your Weapon drops March 31st, 2015. Take the plunge and listen below.