Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote is a four-piece out of Melbourne, who play a beautifully intricate style of music that is omnivorous and voracious in the way that they draw from the group’s many influences. Pulling from the worlds of jazz, rock, funk, R’nB, and even hip hop, it’s no wonder that such an ecumenical group would end up in the elite company of Kamasi Washington, Louis Cole, and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and others, as a Brainfeeder signee. With all that they have to share in terms of sound and vision, it’s gratifying to have another album from the band to let seep into the hungry folds of our brains.
Mood Valiant is Hiatus Kiayote’s third LP and a follow-up to their 2015 album Choose Your Weapon. It can feel a little absurd referring to a six-year gap in releases as a hiatus, but for their lead singer and guitarist Nai Palm, it probably was one by necessity. In 2018, Nai was diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease that claimed her mother’s life when she was a child. Nai elected to undergo a mastectomy to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. While she is currently cancer-free, the experience causes her to have to confront the reality of her own existential limits. Rather than be paralyzed with fear and riddled with dread though, the experience boosted her determination and clarified the calling to make music her life.
This renewed vigor is evident on Mood Valiant, which is nothing if not ebullient and impeccably crafted. Behind Nai’s forceful but pliant and beckoning melodic role, bassist Paul Bender acts as a chaotic force for good- tucking playful bursts of p-funk into tracks like “Chivalry Is Not Dead,” while keyboardist Simon Mavin layers living texture and beguiling accompaniments and drummer Perrin Moss provides a rhythmically mercurial engine in perpetual, transformative motion. The combination of skill and vision makes the party funk and post-disco chic of “Get Sun,” the complex exchange of post-rock and R’nB grooves in a clear transude of membrane inverting melody on “All The Words We Don’t Say,” and the reposing current of the cool, Bill Evans indebted neo-soul of “Rose Water,” come alive with an observance of intentionality that is the product of four individuals who have given themselves over to something wholly, in order to produce an album that is as varied and delightfully mystifying as life itself. The cohesiveness of the work makes it feel like the product of a single mind, and the fact that it is a collective effort is a testament to the camaraderie and integration of focused resolve at its core. Put simply, Mood Valiant, is gorgeous.
You can buy and stream Mood Valiant via Bandcamp below: