Fall Into the Cosmos: Hiatus Kaiyote & 'Mood Valiant'
What a pleasure it is to love music. A gift and blessing to be able to experience the stretch in time-space, the bouncing between dimensions. If ever there was an album to help us stretch and touch the stars, it is Mood Valiant by Hiatus Kaiyote.
The music is elegant. Crafted by magi and intergalactic stardust. That, or maybe it's just good old-fashioned brilliant musicianship. Control. Utter control that masquerades as chaos. Because trust and believe everything from Naipalm's vocalizations to Perrin's intricate drum patterns is meticulous, laid out by hands (and mouths) completely aligned with their artistry. The musical foundations are solid. Dense to the point of indestructability, but fluid enough to allow for that destruction to happen. Or rather deconstruction.
Hiatus Kaiyote is a a marvel to study and dissect. Heavy nods to some of jazz's greats. I hear a lot of Herbie in the precise experimentation, as well as crucial bits of Dilla, FlyLo and Thundercat, and perhaps some Massive Attack at the darkest corners of the sound. They are a musical legacy unto themselves, regardless of how many albums are behind them or the ones to come. Hiatus Kaiyote is legendary on the merit of their space-bending, party-crashing musicality.
Mood Valiant is triumphant music that doesn't rely on more than what's necessary. In moments of vocal and instrumental grandeur, lyricism is kept to a minimum for the sake of adding dimension to what's already there. No song is heavy-laden or overtaxed. There's...a lot. That's for sure. Almost a glut of soundscapes, textures and emotions. It wouldn't take much to become overwhelming. However, just when the otherworldliness of it seems to bubble over, you get tracks like "Hush Rattle" to bring you back down to earth with seashells and tree bark. Leading into "Rose Water," which inches quietly in on an upright bass before spilling over into something tribal, made completely of densely packed earth sounds.
But don't misunderstand. This isn't an audio concept album. When the music becomes incredibly tender, sincerity in just a piano and a cello, Naipalm's voice and lyricism take center stage, and do they ever shine. The gift of Naipalm's voice and pen. Her music is muscular. Disconnected from predictability, but you never find yourself lost on her journeys. "Stone or Lavender" is one of the most physically emotional songs I've heard in the past decade. Simple in concept so that when she's let loose, Naipalm can ignite fire and orange colors as her namesake suggests. It's a song that isn't seeking to get your attention. It forces it out of you regardless of if want it to our not. So you might as well leave yourself open to the experience of this heart-tender lullaby. So much soul and gospel and pure fire.
Mood Valiant rocks back and forth in this way. Waves cresting and crashing, never following a set pattern so the story line stays a mystery. But the band holds your hand and pulls you along. You're never lost, but you're beholden to their strength. Might as well just let it happen. How does one connect the earth and the heavens, collecting all the stuff of the land with the cosmos? Perhaps, and I'm beginning to believe this is the case, Hiatus Kaiyote has the answers.