Do you like Australian hip-hop but are getting bored of new artists who just sound the same? Have you been listening to the same artists and albums for years because nothing grabs you anymore? Well, Old Men Of Moss Mountain’s Swamp EP is a hunk of home-grown hip-hop harvested from a very different crop, a crop that has grown in a weird field full of robot archaeologists, stop motion killing sprees, werewolves, clowns and rappers with their hoods down.
Both the production and lyrics of the ambitious, home recorded EP draw on a broader base of influences than your traditional hip-hop artist. The result is an album that has all the bounce, flow and charm of old school hip-hop, filtered through the cipher of some seriously demented individuals hell bent on blurring the boundaries between hip-hop, surrealism, stoner-humour, psychedelia and classic pop and distilled into one heady broth of fun.
The title track Swamp opens the EP with all three MCs, Polyphics (Rollo ‘Ront’ Anderson, i like cats), Mr Whisper (Max ‘Horatio’ Rapley) and Matsi (Marc ‘Shlome’ Silvers, Eye Of The Spider) harmonising beautifully as they chant “let those with no pity, cast the first stones in the well, cos just a stone’s throw from the city, are swamps, and in the swamps monsters dwell,” before the superbly subterranean synth, run through a guitar distortion pedal, begins to pulse and we’ve embarked on a journey into the Swamp.
Second track Cabin Fever is a bit of an odd man out on the album with a beat that sounds more Warp Records than Death Row and a chorus belonging much more to pop or electro than hip-hop. Track three Black Hole Computer is my personal favourite from the album with by far the best lyrics as the three MCs describe a Matrix-esque apocalypse where humans evolve into information based beings (like in Kurzweils’ Singularity Theory for the nerds like me out there). It starts off with a fuzzed out beat as bleak as the following lyrics from Polyphics: “when the pillars have decayed to dust, when the builder’s concussed, and the architect’s fled, left the city to rust…” I could go on.
The chorus pretty much sums up the track. “How, far, can, we, evolve, from here. Transcend particle, spin and end up where we begin in a light-year.” The exploration of such complex ideas as the potential circularity of existence and evolution is typical of the band, but don’t let that fool you; the beats are fat and the flow is tight.
Next Track As Moses opens with a sample most Alicia Silverstone fans will find familiar, masterfully interlaced with the hi-hat peppered beat and soft-spoken rhymes. One of the more traditionally hip-hop songs on the album, they still manage to throw in some epic guitar riffage and even an acoustic breakdown toward the end. Also you have to watch out for Mr Whisper’s massive drop on the bridge. Enormous.
Hoods Down is by far the most upbeat song on the EP. Starting with an eerily harmonised chant, it’s driven by a beat so bouncy it’d survive being dropped out a window by Eric Clapton. This is matched with tenacious flow form the three MCs but what would otherwise be a rolling poppy single is turned into a grimy exploration of muted aggression as they break into the ferociously tribal chorus of “we’re entering the woods now, with our hoods down, preparing to battle werewolves and clowns!”
Final track Nerd Rapper is their strongest song as well as being their most effective summation of the scepticism central to the bands lyrics and ideas. Again the lyrics are stunning. “I fall asleep to impress you, I can confess, to a thousand other ways that I’m human, but it’s best to, compare shares in a primitive pattern, a civilised anaesthetic numbs what happens.”
The chorus is the centrepiece though. Sung in sweet and sombre high harmonies, OMOMM explain that “we hit the planet but the planet bites back, with it’s quantum mechanics can it give us our sight back, stand up and the earth looks flat, and the earth looks flat. We split the atom and the atom explodes and even though we now know we don’t leave it alone, and now our plan’s fucked, we never should’ve looked at that, should’ve looked at that.”
Closing with the muted chants of a Maori choir, Nerd Rapper is a sort of ‘goodbye see you soon’ from the MCs. With an album already in the works, an album that is the Charlie Sheen to Swamp’s Emilio Estevez these Old Men don’t look like they’re going to be showing their age anytime soon.
To find out more or have a listen to the whole EP, check out their Myspace page.