Album Review: Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon

Written By Donna Arendse on 05/12/2015



Hiatus Kaiyote is one of those prolific Australian bands that have quickly become a genre-defining piece of the national and international musical landscape. After their debut self-produced album Tawk Tomahawk gained them worldwide recognition, the outfit have gone on to play sold out shows around the world, be nominated for a Grammy, as well as getting a personal thumbs ups from high profile musicians like Erykah Badu Prince, Pharrell Williams and Questlove.

Now Hiatus Kaiyote’s world-class future-soul sound (to find some sort of genre to box this into) is explored further with this new offering. Choose Your Weapon is a wonderfully atmospheric and vibrant collection of songs – and is one of those albums you can sit in the dark with headphones on, and simply just listen to. In saying that, there is a definite overindulgence of material and ideas, with a tendency to sounding quite messy at times. Some further structural edits would not have gone astray, but ultimately, nothing is taken away by it being “too much”, and the result is still a magical cacophony of sounds from the four-piece.


Saturated with deliciously electronic, acoustic, futuristic, and psychedelic elements, no one mood is evident, going from the soothing, soulful sounds of Fingerprint and almost lethargic Prince Minikid, to the grungy chaos of Swamp Thing and sporadic urgency which eventuates in Atari. Chaotic and complex song structures constantly tryst with Nai Palm’s warm vocal tone, in songs such as Shaolin Monk Motherfunk where lullaby like vocals are driven by a strong hip hop beat, moving between smooth and choppy, and ending in a smorgasbord of mechanical crunch and synths.

This album isn’t one of those one-off listens – it’s a collection of highly evolved songwriting and music that refuses to just be mindlessly consumed. Ongoing themes of consciousness and nature are what hold it all together, the intricacy of every song even extending to the music embodying the quality of the element being spoken about, such as the illusion of bubbles and ripples created in Breathing Underwater.

The dynamic nature of the band and its various personalities is evident in the rich tapestry of sounds which communicate a collaborative project where everything works together to create this vibrant landscape of sound. Laputa is a great example of this - an ethereal foray into a trance-like world of synths, rhythms made up of clicks and clacks, spoken word and soaring vocals.

Overall, Choose Your Weapon is a wonderfully disjointed and chaotic album with lovely moments of peace, introspective thought and warmth.