Music I Like

Music I Like: Hiatus Kaiyote – “Breathing Underwater”

Hiatus Kaiyote
Hiatus Kaiyote

Growing up, a huge part of the allure of listening to music and consuming art was the fact that all I had was the art. I couldn’t follow them on Twitter or connect directly to them in any way except the art. Another huge part was the skill level of the musicians being so high that it was audacious to even think that I could recreate it, not that I even wanted to. Hiatus Kaiyote gives me that feeling again. Ladies and gents and everyone in between, I present to you…future soul.

I was initially wowed by Hiatus Kaiyote when a friend turned me on to The By Fire EPwhich serves as a sampler to their upcoming album, Choose Your WeaponI was sucked in from the first series of hits in By Fire, which are broken by a sort of ode to heavy New York style hip hop. It took me to boom-bap real quick….then warped back to something extraterrestrial.

The music is an amalgamated and living being, the literal/figurative head of which being lead singer/guitarist Nai Palm‘s voice. Rhythms in the band are almost always connected directly to what her voice does, like a brain in context to limbs. It’s equal parts spacey and groovy, allowing space to vibe out and head nod simultaneously, which is like my favorite thing in the world to do.

The compositions are always complex, but palatable. Best of all, it doesn’t sound like anything but itself, which is always welcomed in my library. Symbolic synth flurries in concert with guitar scales express watery air bubbles like only synth flurries in concert with guitar can. Sawing synths from Simon Mavin and sharp drumming by Perrin Moss give the song signature in more ways than one. Warm, blue e-piano played by Paul Bender fills the nooks and crannies but doesn’t stuff themNai Palm‘s guitar playing is mostly subtle at first listen, but you grow to appreciate her rhythms as you get deeper into the cut. The bass lines are always very transparent and involved, and Breathing Underwater provides a prime example; you mostly feel it. The sounds come together and create something truly unique and swaggered, something unbothered and fearless.

You really do sense the influences in their music, but I find it hard to label those influences though they are right at the tip of my record stylus. No one is without influence, but a very small number of us artists have achieved the alchemy of hiding our influence snugly inside of our originality. Doing that takes a massive amount of conviction or maybe just enough to defy people and things that try to shape us. It’s a sincere challenge, but a rewarding one to overcome. Hiatus Kaiyote has a claim on a new genre – future soul – to show for it.

Well played.

Hiatus Kaiyote‘s new album, Choose Your Weapon is set to drop on Cinco De Mayo (that’s May 5th for our unilingual readers).


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