When I first heard of the New Zealand neo-funk/soul/r&b/everything-sonically-pleasing-under-the-sun-quartet, Hiatus Kaiyote, it was through their 2013 hit, “Nakamarra” featuring the legendary Abstract Emcee, Q-Tip. The experience of being introduced to that track and subsequently the band’s full body of work felt like a reprisal of self for me. It was eye-opening, really, what with their brilliant mish-mash of aural offerings that traipsed through multiple genres as deftly and rhythmically as their lead singer, Nai Palm, finessed the diverse sonic landscape her fellow bandmates, Paul Blender, Perrin Moss and Simon Mavin, set for her. What my ears heard and the punctuating feeling I felt for this sound had me hooked. For further soul-affirming validation, I knew I had to seem them live.
Fast forward to May 20th of this year at The Roxy in Hollywood. The building was packed – another expected sold out show in Hiatus Kaiyote’s successful Choose Your Weapon Tour – filled with audiophiles, known artists, industry heads, all here with the understanding that the show we were about to experience would be of the very power and musical mystic that had us shelling out $25 without even batting a lash and nary the usual complaint about the extra processing fees tacked on.
Thirty-something bucks was well worth the priceless poly-rhythmic experience that everyone was treated to that night. And it was within that live, organically diverse and seemingly cosmic orchestration where I was hit with the revelation of why Hiatus Kaiyote’s music resonates so well with me.
The ups and downs of rhythm and timing, the pronounced and distinct syncopation, the abrupt tempo changes – all of this multi-layered cacophony and dissonant chaos that was scorching the surface of our musical palates – yet the end result was a symphonic and harmonious triumph. It was as if this was the very soundtrack for life itself. This sudden resolution that I found myself gravitating towards was how Hiatus Kaiyote was the perfect musical personification of this thing we call life. Corny right? Hear me out.
As cacophonous, chaotic and unexpected life’s tempo switches can be, the beautiful whole is a resonant masterpiece that we can truly appreciate once we take a step back and listen to just how well the progression of our very own soundtracks have gone. All the different influences in our lives that affect our overall “sound”, if you will, embodies a veritable example of what makes each of our own sonic offerings so unique and satisfying. What’s more, the very appreciation for the harmony of trial and error can go a long way in a type of happiness that will suddenly find us vibing along and eventually putting our favorite parts of life…on repeat.