If you were introduced to Australian hip-hop solely by listening to radio/TV broadcasts, one would most likely be presented a mélange of aggressive corny clichés spat out by mostly white guys with big hats and/or shaved heads and/or mirrored aviators. This is in turn consumed by white guys with big hats and/or shaved heads and/or mirrored aviators. Not that there is anything wrong with this situation, and people seem to like it, so...
Then we have Crisis Tales, produced by Curse ov Dialect, who are 5 chaps going by the names of Raceless, Volk Makedonski, Atarungi and August the 2nd, with DJ Paso Bionic on the turntables. Why this group is not showcased as the epitome of Australian hip-hop seems a mystery. They are hard working and produce a highly original brand of post-hip hop hip-hop that is essentially without comparison in contemporary circles. It is not clear the reasons for this lack of exposure, but it may be that Curse ov Dialect lack the requisite aping of mainstream U.S. hip-hop, or is it the Maori, Maltesian, Indian, Pakistani and Macedonian MCs of Curse that makes them a little... peppermint for some?
Regardless, Crisis Tales is Curse of Dialect's most recent release, coming hot on the heals (not really) of 2006s Wooden Tongues. In terms of lyricism, Crisis Tales sounds a little like Paul's Boutique-era Beastie Boys, delivered with more contemporary Beastie Boys subject matter, in that Crisis Tales is lacking lyrics concerning dogging your missus and her being a doofus etc, instead tending toward Public Enemy style politics, whom Curse often cite as a primary influence on their music. Such is the intellectual quotient of the typical Crisis Tales track that at times you feel as if you are being lectured to. At the same time however, there is the track '85 Percent' claiming "85% of us are totally ignorant"... so maybe this intellectualising is lost on all but a small proportion of the audience. Interestingly, one of the members of Curse claims he studied sociology "just so I could write better lyrics," which must count amongst the only useful applications of studies in this field ever (I jest), but also serves to provide an idea of the level of soft-core academia you are in for with Crisis Tales.
Themes of race and identity abound on Crisis Tales, as they have on most of Curse ov Dialect's work. The first track is called... "Identity," and features the excellent lyric "curry and rice not bangas and mash". "Aegean Ghosts" features "gems" such as "modern Greeks are a 19th century creation a fabrication of the philhellene imagination" amongst a veritable thesis length screed on... something - civil war, hellinism, repatriation, decapitation, 1980s ministerial decrees, drinking castor oil - all in there. But be warned, these dudes can and will and do incorporate controversial and complex issues involving Greco-Macedonian affairs into their rhymes.
Overall, there is an interesting sound to Crisis Tales, which features plenty of experimentation and 1 million samples. Obscure instrumentation is mixed with late-80s game show sounding music in "Paradigm," inter-spliced with subcontinental sounding chants as backing vocals. "Draindrops" is largely in Japanese provided by MC Kaigen, who talks about something along the lines of "bard of the currency and financial sector distant galaxy," if the Google translation is to be trusted, which I am sure it cannot (context etc).The track also features several minutes of split channel vocals - separate vocal tracks in the left and right channel, performed by the same guy (Volk) at the same time, which is impressive and disorienting to listen to. Rounding out the album is the 11 minute, 7000 MC containing opus "Colossus," which is just absurd but seems to work.
All of this experimentation and innovation is carried out across the entire album, and all of it is occurring at breakneck pace such that it sounds as if it would be impossible to replicate, but given the massive gap between this and the last album, is probably the result of intensive concentration and several parts magic. All in all, Crisis Tales is a cornucopia of interest for the music enthusiast, in addition to the overall quality of the record meaning it should appeal to the broader public as well. Well done, team.
- Media Moguls
- Honesty in Monasteries
- 85 Percent
- Concious Terror
- Vanishing Point
- Aegean Ghosts
- Runaway Tears