Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Album Review: Lucid Hiest - Absence In Motion (2016)

This was another review for the Fresh Cuts section of the latest issue of NZ Musician magazine:


(With this one I initially had OCD/spelling nazi issues with what I (wrongly) assumed was an incorrect spelling of the word Hiest (sic), and I also struggled with a few swearies on the album itself. Then I realised that Lucid Hiest couldn't care less about what the likes of me think, and it's exactly that attitude that makes the album the unique and special thing it is ...)

Self-proclaimed “East Coast rebel” Isiah Ngawaka knows a fair bit about life’s struggles. On Absence In Motion, wearing his Lucid Hiest moniker, Ngawaka gets to share a few of his stories, with a further promise that he’s really only just getting started. And when a young artist with this much talent starts out with roughly 50 tracks, whittling them down to an album-sized baker’s dozen becomes an exercise in continually raising the level on the quality control filter. The end result is a quite startling home-produced album which blends a distinctly local hip hop vibe with world-class drum’n bass flavours. Throw in sub-rattling slabs of heavyweight bass, a sack full of sticky dub, some smooth RnB vocal harmonies, plus the occasional post-apocalyptic sci fi sample, and Lucid Hiest covers off all of the bases within the gamut of this wider thing called ‘urban’. Themes include growing up in small-town Aotearoa, nights out, racism, and survival – within the music industry and with daily life itself. As fiercely independent as he undoubtedly is, Lucid Hiest gets some help along the way, mostly with vocals, but also from ace brass man Matt Mear, whose subtle instrumentation is one of the best features on an album rich in atmosphere. Something which is perhaps best emphasised on the outstanding ‘Pushing Through’. The explicit nature of some of the lyrics won’t appeal to all, but thankfully Ngawaka isn’t in this game to tread carefully on the delicate sensibilities of anyone not inhabiting his world. Lucid Hiest is all about creating four to five-minute bursts of gritty realism; these are his stories, honest and raw snapshots of his world, nobody else can tell him how to frame them. Bring on chapter two.

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