Hermitude have been floating in the ether just off my radar for way too long. Even when label mates at Elefant Traks Ozi Batla and Horrorshow featured over a year and a half ago now and I was pretty overwhelmed by the amount of talent, hardly heard or spoken of in traditional circles, laying right in my backyard, I missed the hip-hop duo. That I’ve overlooked Hermitude to date, an act that brings some local flavour to one of my favourite sorts of music – hip-hop inspired electronic jams sans vocals – is a real shame. That I’ve cottoned on to the talent of the two Blue Mountains-based (NSW) lads Luke Dubber (Luke Dubs) and Angus Stuart (aka El Gusto) as they prepare to release their fourth long player in nine years this month is a boon not only for this blog but for my appreciation of Australian music, having only recently reentered the scene, more generally.
‘HyperParadise’ is the title track from the new LP and is everything that spectacularly produced hip-hop electronic crossover tracks should sound like. In many aspects, particularly when it comes to hip-hop, Australia chooses to blaze its own trail, with artists releasing material that draws on international influences but is undoubtedly the produce of down under. A penchant for traditional, jazz- or rock-based samples, even as acts in the States and the UK increasingly incorporate clubbier sounds, has distinguished Australian hip-hop in recent years. Where album space allows, genre crossovers are dabbled in but the results are frequently embarrassing, often evidence that artists should have stuck to what they were good at in the first instance. The emergence of ‘aquacrunk’ – a genre thought to have origins in Brandy’s wonky ‘What About Us‘ and a label coined by Rustie which has most recently been best typified by his releases – changes all that. The collision of sounds and influences is fundamental to the success of aquacrunk. Just how smoothly one can weave disparate ideas together dictates how exciting the resulting track is.
By that measure, ‘HyperParadise’ is a massive song. The twitchy mousiness of Rustie’s ‘Surph‘ is here joined by some very unexpected Jamie xx-inspired steel drums that lend what can be an overwhelming melange of sounds a nonchalance that only redoubles their holistic efficacy. Then El Gusto and Luke Dubs – both multi-instrumentalists and former drummers and keyboardists for a host of pre-Hermitude bands – drop in heavy, what can only be classified as guttural, hip-hop shouts and the whole thing just explodes. The bass goes hard, the only constant with the synth work is change and for four minutes, we kick back and relax on the island of sound the Hermitude lads have conjured up, replete with pina coladas, ethereal mermaid vocals and hydraulics-boosted Cadillacs – aqua-crunk, obviously. Borrowing on the foundations laid by Rustie and fellow Glaswegians S-Type and Hudson Mohawke, Hermitude have proven that sometimes not being a hermit and indulging in a quick survey of the international scene goes a long way. ‘HyperParadise’ might not be obviously ‘Strayan but it is current, complex and intensely enjoyable.
Hermitude – HyperParadise
PS. Watch this extraordinarily choreographed clip for previous single ‘Speak Of The Devil’. Do it.