Hiatus’ debut is groundbreaking and incredibly innovative, qualities that remind one of the old days of revolutionary musical fusion.

The frightening cover art on Hiatus Kaiyote’s debut LP Tawk Tomahawk displays the ferocious floating head of a coyote. Perhaps it conveys the horror that a narrow-minded, conservative listener may experience when hearing this record for the first time. This LP is unsuitable for an ear obsessed with conventional music; an ear that is unable or unwilling to look beyond genre. Highly controversial, Tawk Tomahawk, with its enigmatic lyricism and musical transcendence, will send ignorant listeners into a terrifying state of confusion. For the rest of us, Tawk Tomahawk is a delicious remedy to jaded ears.

Influenced by the eclectic mix of Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and pretty much anything Flamenco and Columbian, Hiatus have produced a sound that dips a toe in pretty much every single groovy musical movement of our time. There’s a bit of jazz; a splash of Latin; half a cup of hip hop and a whole bunch of electronica. All of this is interconnected with the soul-drenched voice of singer-songwriter Nai Palm.

The album is made up of both long and short tracks, the latter providing temporary respite from some of the heavier songs. Tracks like ‘Ocelot’, ‘Boom Child’ and ‘Rainbow Rhodes’ are layered with synths and hip hop beats; electronic interludes that further validate the band’s musical dexterity. Like the instrumentals, Palm’s voice never stagnates. Where she might sing in one song; she will put her own spin on rap in another. She also harmonises a lot, showcasing her ethereal vibrato.

An acquired taste, each track is vastly different to the one preceding it. Hardly hinting at any melody, Tawk Tomahawk is polyrhythmic, weird and heterogeneous. But this is exactly why it is so brilliant.

4.5/5 stars


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