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Hiatus Kaiyote: Multi-Dimensional, Polyrhythmic Gangster Shit.

Amongst the musical discoveries I’ve made this year, I created a special bond with a particular one; from Melbourne, Australia comes Hiatus Kaiyote. A neo-soul quartet freshly started in 2011, but brought to music something new and futuristic. Founded by bassist Paul Bender, singer -and a special kind of- guitarist Nai Palm, quickly joined by Perrin Moss (drums) and Simon Mavin (keyboard).

Most of the members were solo performers, Nai Palm for example used to compose complex songs on her own without much knowledge of music theory, making it hard for her to put a band together. Luckily, Bender discovered her talent in one of her gigs, he was so impressed by the performance that he had to propose the idea of a band. Nai Palm wasn’t convinced enough and refused at first, and it was until a year later that they met again by chance and that time, the course of music history took a little turn.
There’s no ressource on what the idea behind their name means; Hiatus means ‘a break or interruption in the continuity of a work’, Kaiyote sounds like coyote… but that’s just me. And « Multi-Dimensional, Polyrhythmic Gangster Shit » is funnily the band’s way of describing their work, it’s just a random phrase they came up with on a road trip, yet it is so strangely fitting.

A huge part of the inspiration I got from this band’s music comes from Nai Palm and the way she transmits her messages,  and you will soon know why, maybe you’ll become hooked too. (Just kidding there’s no `maybe`)

Time to bias you, plug-in your earphones or boost up your speakers, and listen as you read through the rest.

Arose a Rose

Before I talk about the musical aspect of the band, I want to introduce you to Nai Palm, who -for me- is Hiatus Kaiyote‘s emblem. Her liberty of self-expression is one of her strongest characteristics, and she adds a very philosophical pinch to her music.

« To be completely honest, the roots of most creative expression is birthed through pain. It’s usually from the need to process something fucked up or unbalanced within myself. Working it out and then sharing it with people so that they might gain perspective for themselves, or something astoundingly beautiful that shakes me to my core and I need to connect to it through creation. There’s no set formula. Inspiration is intangible and elusive. »

In a recent interview1, Nai Palm discusses her creative process and what helps her trigger it; a chunk of peruvian Palo Santo wood that she occasionally sets ablaze with a lighter, Charlie -her parrot and good friend-, and a very interestingly looking Buran mask from Indonesia. Mysticism and bohemian behaviour give a unique aura to her person, emphasised on with the bizarre outfits, exotic earrings, and a badass hairstyle.
Nai Palm’s vocal game is on point, she has so much control over her voice, yet is so adventurous with it and isn’t content with only singing lyrics, humming and oscillating from alto to soprano never sounded better. She gracefully slaps her orange jazz guitar to make the cleanest sounds, creativity and energy make up the core of her playstyle, so much groove that the music often falls between hip-hop/funk/jazz. If there is one word I could describe this artist with, it would be: Ballsy.

Nai Palm definitely stands out in today’s music scene as a singer, songwriter, and performer. She’s the blossoming rose that will mark the name « Hiatus Kaiyote » on music’s history.

Nai Palm
Nai Palm

Tawk Tomahawk (2012)

The first album recorded by the band was a big success, they fused jazz, hip-hop, and more musical flavours under the « neo soul » genre, and they did it in a pretty amazing way. In 2013 they were nominated for a grammy award as Best R&B Performance for their song « Nakamarra » performed with American rapper Q-Tip, but had lost to yet another promising band; Snarky Puppy (which I’ll surely write about in the near future) recording « Something »2 with Lalah Hathaway.

The album is composed of 10 songs, although the playstyle differs from one to another, that « Hiatus Kaiyote » stamp is strongly present through the whole album. Keyboards come out huge  in the band’s musical process; Simon Mavin does a great job of setting the mood for the songs and gives the rest of the band room to freestyle, with adaptation to the core idea of their music of course. The percussions in almost every song are complex and inherit their time signatures from jazz and latino.
I found this album kind of « experimental » and that’s what I like about it the most, a four-piece of music fanatics gathering together, not afraid to try new things out and make the world puke rainbows.

After the grammy nomination, they were invited to take part of a series called ‘Chronicles’3 made by Red Bull Music Academy & Boiler Room, it’s an artist-curated series of documentaries and events that tell the stories of Australia’s most innovative artists. They acquired a lot of renown and their name quickly got widespread, they knew how to capture attention and set a path for themselves.

Choose Your Weapon (2015)

Although Tawk Tomahawk was a well received album and had some great jams, it leaves you with a feeling that the music wasn’t fully developped; most songs are under two minutes and there’s a lot of experimenting done, but what this meant is that HK were only readying themselves and the public for what is to come.
In May 2015, they returned with something more musically mature when they produced and released their second studio album intitled « Choose Your Weapon » independantly through their record label « Flying Buddha« . It comprises 18 songs and lasts for almost 70 minutes, which is double the duration of their first album. Nai Palm describes « Choose Your Weapon » as an extension to the debut, with more she also stated she and the band had no intention to make a one genre body of work, but rather style and format the album like a mixtape by throwing in some interludes.

« Choose Your Weapon » doesn’t shy away from going all the way and really grinding out some impressive rhythms and unique sounds. Nai Palm stepped up her poetry and wrote lyrics touching upon themes of supernatural topics, technological subjects and death. In addition to writing all of the album’s songs, she was the designer of its artwork. Overall, more dedication and authenticity were shown by Hiatus Kaiyote in this album, and they certainly made the public thirsty for more.

« Choose Your Weapon » is a call to -intellectual- arms, urging the listener to get hold of their own world and be true to their own expression, to select the good vibes that flow with one’s own, and to explore what triggers emotion in oneself.

External references:

1 – Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon with Nai Palm: Triggering Creativity
2 – Snarky Puppy feat. Lalah Hathaway – Something (Family Dinner – Volume One)
3 – RBMA X Boiler Room Chronicles 001

7 musical reasons to watch anime

Yeah, I see you coming already : « Anime ? What does that have to do with music ? And why the fudge is Vinylemag writing about it ? ». Let me tell you : music in anime is the best thing that has been created, after pizza and the ASOIAF saga (this is a totally subjective opinion) ! It literaly controls the way you feel in one moment or the other. For some of you out there, anime is just vague memory of what was on TV after school, for the rest, otakus like me who can be kind of obsessed with this, it is an art, a way of life, a passion. And being the huge fan I am, of course I had to write an article about anime OSTs.

Here it is then : 7 musical reasons to watch anime, or as I call it, 7 ways to start obsessing over fictional characters. This is the list of my top seven anime songs, in no particular order.

1. Super girl from City Hunter :

I think I was eight or nine years old when I started watching City Hunter on the French channel Mangas. As most of Japanimation enthusiasts know, it wasn’t an appropriate show for children. It was full of boobs, guns, blood, fights, a perverted hot dude and everything that would make an anime worth watching. But more importantly, its OST was one of the most beautiful, moving OSTs ever made. It had a touch of that classy 80’s disco, a swing to it that is missing in today’s animes (Ughh, nostalgia). My personal favourite one is Okamura Yasuyuki‘s  Super Girl : Just the way he says « Darling » at the beginning makes me want to drop out of school and become a bounty hunter, like Ryo Saeba.

2. For Real from Gensomaden Saiyuki :

Yes, now that I am a grown-up and watching it again, Gensomaden Saiyuki has an extremely gay vibe to it. And I absolutely LOVE it. This anime is the description of the word Bromance at its best. Its OST is also one the most badass ones I’ve ever listened to, not only because it’s very good music (obviously), but also because it captures the soul of the plot : It’s at the same time beautiful, endearing, but also dark and very violent. The story of these four misfits made me cry and cheer (cheer for extreme violence, yes) at a very early age and it will always be one of those beautiful memories that never fade.

3. Kuroi Namida from Nana :

This anime and its OST will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first experience with Josei anime and I never found another one in the genre that could dethrone it. Everything about it is beautiful : The animation, the story, the music. God, the music is breathtaking. Anna Tsuchiya and Olivia (both main singers of the anime’s OST) have the kind of voices you don’t encounter in your everyday life and Tsuchiya’s Kuroi Namida (Black Tears) is the perfect example of what I just said.

4.White Page from Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo :

For those of you out there who call themselves otakus but have never watched this masterpiece, DO IT. Kindaichi Shounen no Kijenbo is everything a horror movies fan wants : It has the Detective Conan vibe, mysteries, police investigations, artsy murders (I can’t believe I just used the word artsy to describe death) and a beautiful OST. The music is hardly the best part of this anime (creepiness is the best part), but it is worth the mini heart attacks you get everytime you witness a brutal murder on the show.

5. Guren no Yumiya from Shingeki No Kyojin :

Everyone, even those who thought that anime was for children and immature adults, heard about the bomb that is Shingeki No Kyojin. Almost everyone who watched it loved it, and some of us became unhealthily obsessed with it (cue to me rewatching all of the episodes in one night while eating chocolate and crying all the tears I have). And no one ever said that its first opening was bad. You just CAN’T. It makes your blood boil in your veins and your heart flutter like a virgin on her wedding night (God, that comparison was nasty).

6. Red Fraction from Black Lagoon :

I guess you got the whole idea right now : I love violent animes, with a lot of action, death, gunfights, a good plot and badass music. So of course Black Lagoon’s opening was going to be on this list. This song fits perfectly this anime’s ambience :It’s dark, entertaining and takes itself pretty seriously. And daaaamn, the women on this show were just great !

7. Stray from Wolf’s Rain :

Wolf’s Rain is one of those animes that you don’t really get, like foreign indie movies or abstract art, but you can’t help but love (or pretend to, we’ve all been an ostentatious douche some day). The music though, is totally understadable and absolutely lovable. The lyrics are in English, sung by the all mighty Steve Conte, they are also meaningful and stay true to the heart of the story.


Of course I couldn’t write about all anime OSTs that I appreciated, that would be physically impossible. But there are some good openings and endings that didn’t make it to the the list, either because I forgot about them and didn’t remember them until now, or because, well, the truth is I just forgot about them. Here there are :

  • Flyers from Death Parade : The groove man. THE GROOOOVE !

    • Unravel from Tokyo Ghoul : All the fans will remember the acoustic version of that song at the end of the second season (oh, the feels…)

The Heavy : Prepare to swoon, ladies (and gentlemen) !

Sometimes, you just want to listen to some good-ass music. You want to be a self-important prick to your friends when telling them about that new craaaaazy great band that you just discovered and that no one knows about (we all did it, don’t you even try to deny it !). Well, today, I’m giving you the chance to do it again, to blow your friends’ minds and make them worship you like the music deity you are (strghfr stghfr though).

They are young, they are hot, but most importantly, they are extremely talented. Their music makes you either swing or slow dance. The Heavy have what we, poor, talentless (okay, not that talentless), common people call “groove” and this class that is oh so special to British people. Their music is a melting-pot of styles and instruments: They easily move from Blues to Soul, Old Rock and even Funk and Hip Hop. Nothing scares them, musically, and it is a mesmerizing experience for our ears, when all we hear on our national radio is « Safi safi, matzid ta kelma safi » and other bullshit like that (No offense to this kind of music’s fans, though).

The lyrics alone are a work of art, a subtle dark poetry that describes a cursed day to day life, situations we’ve all lived, sensations we’ve all had. They don’t sing about beautiful girls, sex or money, they sing about life, authenticity, and sometimes, this is what we really need.

The Heavy are hardly known in Morocco, but after three successful albums, they made their marks in their country (The UK, home of beautiful landscapes and sexy accents. Dammit, those accents! Sorry, I’m forgetting myself; let’s go back to the music) and in the US. However, people everywhere should enjoy the masterpiece that is their art.

Without further ado, I will let you discover The Heavy with this playlist that I made all by myself (I am so proud.)

The Heavy by Houda Laabadi on Grooveshark

Plini: The Prog Prodigy

Plini, 22 years old, Sydney, Australia.
This is all the information that this modern-day Buckethead lets out to the public about himself. This, and the wondrous collection of chefs-d’oeuvre that he creates, which are mostly recorded and mixed in his bedroom, each written in very few days. A one of a kind one-man band.
One of the few underground geniuses -although he’s relatively new to the scene- who still have a rock-solid fanbase that never hesitates to support him and thank him as if he saved their monotonic life and brought something special into it.

His unparalleled play style, sometimes influenced by progressive metal idols « Dream Theater » -playing fragments of a song in another song from another album is so DT-, and the organized messiness in his songs is very Zappa-like.
The ability to create the jolliest progressive melodies that bring about so much happiness to the listener is definitely one of the most peculiar assets of Plini.

In his music you can feel a simple-complex duality; Simple and basic techniques used to play the songs, accompained with complex melodies, time signatures, and tempos, to make perfectly homogeneous sounds.
Plini‘s music is the ultimate proof that you don’t need to shred through the whole song just to make a point. (A musical point, that is)

Plinio Designori was the antagonist in German author Herman Hesse‘s novel « The Glass Bead Game », which Plini‘s mother used to read. Being a character from an outside world, it swayed Plini to choose it for a name to keep his anonymity, for some reason.

So if you’re having a rough day, or are in need of inspiration, let me (with the help of Plini himself) take you to a better place.

1- Heart

Here’s the best example of all that I’ve stated above. The simplicity of the riffs and the sudden switches in the song’s virtual mood overwhelm you. Clean guitar with drop C tuning, a magical staccato solo, the harmony between the instruments, and that recurrent metronome sound that plays from the beginning of the song to its end. All of these components sum up to make a masterpiece that I’m sure you’ll like.

2- Atlas

Plini‘s jazz influences come out high in this one. Chromatic scales and a little bit of carelessness in playing that still makes sense to the musical ear: Jazz.

3- Sweet Nothings (The E.P.)

The 2nd EP by Plini, which had more success than its predecessor « Other Things » -both were written in two days each-. The song « Opening » in a sort defines the general theme of the EP, it sets the mood, the time and the space for the rest of the songs. « Tarred & Feathered » is one of the most beautiful progressive ballads I’ve ever heard. The third song, « Away », has more attack in it, but it keeps the flavour of the previous songs within it. Plini, obviously a fan of american rapper Kendrick Lamar, remixed this song with the latter’s « Poetic Justice ». You can check it out here.

(Bonus) Moonflower

Moonflowers are very beautiful and fragrant. But sometimes the prettiest of flowers grow thorns and hurt you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering and listening to Plini.

Mashrou’ Leila get their first date with Morocco

The day has finally come. Three years now that Mashrou’ Leila fans have been waiting for a concert of their favorite band to take place in Morocco. Thursday, November 13th, the « Overnight Project » get their very first date in Mohammed V theater, Rabat as part of the first edition of Visa for Music. VinyleMag was there to cover this special event. Technicians are setting the stage, minutes seem longer than usual for the impatient audience. Aaand they’re on stage. Standing ovation. Fans shouting. Haig starts playing « Bahr ». The audience is standing and singing non-stop along with Hamed Sinno, Carl Gerges, Firas Abou Fakher, Ibrahim Badr, and Haig Papazian who are eprforming their most famous songs mainly from their latest album: Ra’asuk. ‘Shimm El Yasmin’, ‘Imm El Jacket’, ‘Ala Babu’, ‘Iskandar Maa’luf’, ‘We nueid’, ‘Im Bililah’, and ‘Taxi’ among others. Hamed Sinno finally calls the crowd to gather around the stage to take the usual band-fans selfie; before ending the show with « Ra’asit Leila ».

Mashrou' Leile selfie

The alternative rock/folk band didn’t escape what now seems to have become a tradition for foreign artists performing in Moroccan festivals: Hamed Sinno, the band’s vocalist, was falsely accused of calling his fans -and I quote- « a bunch of monkeys » according to The rumor was denied soon after the infamous article was released and the band’s manager is considering taking legislative action.

But way before getting to the Mashrou’ Leila part, the spectators were not left unsatisfied. Driss El Maloumi took us on an exquisite journey with his Oud, then gave the stage to N3rdistan who made the buzz with an uncommon mix of classical Arabic poems and electronic tunes. Expect an article devoted to both artists Driss El Maloumi and Walid Benselim, lead singer of N3rdistan. In addition to the three shows, a special tribute was payed to Idir with speeches and testimonials from organizers of Visa for Music.

  We leave you with this live of Mashrou’ Leila, released by Artisthick and shot in Casablanca as part of an upcoming episode of KorsaLive, aired Sunday on 2M TV.

Enjoy! Mellifluously yours.

Playlist : When you feel like the king of the world.

You know that moment, when everything seems perfect ? When you feel like your favourite movie’s hero or heroin the time they save the galaxy/defeat the bad guys/ catch up their soulmate at the airport and tell them their life would be miserable without them and then make out in front of a bunch of people -yeah, we watch chick flicks too here-, and all you need is a good background music ?

Well, today, I propose to you a whole playlist of good music that’ll make you  feel like “the king of the world” –dixit Jack from Titanic, but we all know how it ended up, hein ?-

You can listen to these songs wherever you want, and whenever you need to brighten your day or make the moment even more perfect than it already is. For me, this moment is the one right before the sunset, when birds are going back home and the sky is glowing and it looks like Mother Nature is, just for a few seconds, catching her breath to welcome a new night, full of possibilities, with its stars and moon and whispery voices. For some of you, the perfect moment might be the one when you’re just doing what you enjoy the most, writing, reading, laughing, working out, taking a walk, thinking, working –yeah, some people love their work ! Dreadful, I know- or even murdering people –Nah I’m just kidding, but hey, whatever makes you giggle, we don’t judge here-

After all this mumbling, I assume you’re tired of reading my psychotic thoughts, so just hit up the “play” button and enjoy some good music. Don’t overanalyze the lyrics, just feel the rhythms and let them sink in you.  And why not, tell us in the comments what is your feel good song –please, don’t say it’s Pharrell’s Happy, don’t be a walking cliché-.
Feel good by Houda Laabadi on Grooveshark