Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk

Who knows what Hiatus Kaiyote means, but then again, who knows what genre the music from their debut album Tawk Tomahawk falls into, “future soul” seems fitting, but I stopped questioning their motives two seconds into their first song; it really doesn’t matter. Nevertheless, don’t let the confusion “scratch the nape, just like a snake” because the music is technical, spatial, organized, and it sits so elegantly in your soul. There are few bands that can offer the perfect blend of technicality without losing their sensitivity. No doubt Hiatus Kaiyote has mastered the craft of using music as a medium to expand on a feeling, whatever that may be to you. Really though, you can do anything to this music: drive to it, smile, get jealous because they are so talented, but don’t you dare dance to it, sorry, you can’t. If you want to properly dance to Tawk Tomahawk you will need six arms, two hips, four legs, thirty fingers, and a pair of golden wings. 

This is what the album, Tawk Tomahawk, looks like through the reverb

Through The Reverb - Hiatus Kaiyote
Graphic artist Oswaldo Diaz.

The album starts introspectively with the song “Mobius Streak,” introducing various string instruments through the reverb, and suddenly the vocal harmonies swim through your ears, sweep through your stomach, and slowly “ramble through your heart eons,” making you realize who you will be spending the next thirty minutes with.  The piano gives way to the guitar in “The World It Softly Lulls” followed by the joy in Nai Palm’s voice; literally, you hear joy coming out of your speakers, not music. “Malika” provides a mixture of colors and rhythm; it accentuates the vocal dexterity of Nai Palm, in which her voice thumps through the pace. In contrast, “Ocelot” leans towards the dub side, providing more punch and randomness within its organization, “spot dot dot.” 

“Boom Child” could be considered an instrumental song; Palm’s voice becomes another instrument through the incomprehensible lyrics as it joins the sonic texture. And then “Rainbow Rhodes” happens; it accentuates the versatility of the band in various aspects. I hear J Dilla, Flying Lotus, Future Islands, and right when you’re getting the hang of the rhythm, boom, harmonies swoop in, I hear Hiatus Kaiyote. Then the synthesizer introduces the next song, “Sphynx Gate,” in which instruments provide a dance floor as the bass dances through the beat. I had never heard an instrument dance through a beat before; it’s unlike anything else.

The album ends with “Nakamarra,” which is apparently Hannah’s tribal name, but the song escalates as the drums become more complex with each chorus. It leaves you with an internal sense of happiness because Nakamarra could very well be you while the listener and Hiatus Kaiyote “pulse” together. 

Unmistakably the Australian band will be adding more followers to their list, which includes Erikah Badu and Animal Collective, as they tour for two months around the world. Make sure to catch them as they tour the U.S. this upcoming month, if the live videos are an accurate portrayal of their craft, they will surely provide an amazing live performance.

Check out their music!


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