Skilaa: Tiger in the River (digital outlets)

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Bite Like That
Skilaa: Tiger in the River (digital outlets)

Now this is very interesting and something very different by this ensemble of local artists, many of whom met at the University of Auckland jazz school.

As did the Beths.

But they took their interest into indie.rock and Skilaa use jazz vocals, scatting and hip-hop and soul as their stepping off point.

So imagine early Arrested Development who grew up with Sarah Vaughan and Flora Purim albums, South Auckland soul and R'n'B, Detroit rap and Bristol trip-hop and maybe even some of the vocal layering of Meredith Monk.

It makes for an album of slippery melodies, subtle and funky hip-hop beats, multi-layered vocal lines which stretch in unexpected directions and somewhere in the background a rock trio with guitar just waiting to pop out.

They describe themselves as “psych R'n'B” but frankly even that is limiting.

There are a few familiar names here: writer/vocalist Chelsea Prastiti (who also designed the striking cover), bassist Tom Dennison and guitarist Michael Howell who have all appeared at Elsewhere on local jazz albums.

But this isn't a jazz album.

It is something unique.

Factor in the dark vibe of the outstanding trip-hop Scratch Me Out, the spooky vocal of the terrific Southern Gothic (which also has all the lazy appeal of early Arrested Development, and scatting), the languid Money with a verse contributed by Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson, the surreptitious bass groove of the Pacific-soul R'n'B ballad In My Head, the instantly appealing Bite Like That . . .

This is clever, feminist, soulful and exquisitely crafted music which steps past easy genre categorisation which is also catchy, inventive and . . .

Check it out for yourself. It's something special.


You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here

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