Mekong Delta Sunrise may be the most un-Australian album to be released in local hip hop this year. This has nothing to do with some kind of Today Tonight set of values – here, the term is applied literally.
For their first album in five years, the Astronomy Class collective took to Cambodia, cratedigging and immersing themselves in the local culture. In their travels, they came across vocalist Srey Channthy, who – in case you couldn’t tell by the album’s cover – is the centrepiece of the new record, narrating stories of lonely city nights and national conflict in her native tongue.
The beats stem from Khmer music, creating a distinct and lush atmosphere for Channthy and frontman Ozi Batla to share their respective sides of the same coin. This is particularly effective in songs like ‘Woman Wants To Drink’ and ‘Father’ – although most listeners may not be fluent in the language themselves, they will find it easy to be drawn into the narrative.
It’s an old hip hop adage that it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. Mekong Delta Sunrise attempts to strike a balance between the two – and, for the most part, it succeeds.
Mekong Delta Sunrise is out now through Elefant Traks.