Po­etry/rap

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier Emily Ritchie Mahir Ali

Let Them Eat Chaos Kate Tem­pest Fic­tion/Caro­line Aus­tralia “Most peo­ple ig­nore most po­etry / be­cause most po­etry ig­nores most peo­ple,” English poet Adrian Mitchell de­clared more than 50 years ago.

The lat­ter charge could not pos­si­bly be lev­elled against the po­etry of Kate Tem­pest, a strik­ing new voice on the Bri­tish lit­er­ary and mu­si­cal scene, who snagged the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Po­etry three years ago with the mes­meris­ing Brand New An­cients, an ex­tended poem that yielded a bril­liant al­bum.

No Bri­tish per­for­mance poet has made a com­pa­ra­ble im­pres­sion in the more than 30 years since Lin­ton Kwesi John­son and John Cooper Clarke burst on to the scene.

Tem­pest’s Let Them Eat Chaos builds on that tra­di­tion, echo­ing the con­cerns she ex­pressed in her open­ing ad­dress at the Sydney Writ­ers Fes­ti­val last May.

It is an­other ex­tended poem, with an ap­pro­pri­ately techno/hip-hop back­drop, de­liv­ered in 11 tracks that mostly make per­fect sense as in­di­vid­ual po­ems, even if the big­ger pic­ture is what re­ally counts.

Tem­pest of­fers us keenly ob­served glimpses wal­low in the belly of the beast.” An in­sis­tent damp­ened acous­tic gui­tar riff, later re­in­forced by drums and a cello solo, un­der­scores the po­tency and poignancy of the mas­ter song­smith’s First the Chil­dren. An­other heartrend­ing work, Once Upon a Time, refers to the refugee calamity and the “le­gions of lost” that “trudged on by”. Con­trary to the ti­tle, When I’m Dead is in an al­to­gether lighter vein, with the mas­ter song­writer glee­fully putting down the di­vas Madonna, Ri­hanna and Bey­once: “They all sound just the same those su­per­stars with just one name.”

Else­where on Voices, Bogle makes space for tracks that show­case the tal­ents of long-time ac­com­pa­nist John Munro and other lo­cal song­writ­ers, Pete Titch­ener and Si­mon Wilkins. In­deed, the al­bum starts with Bogle singing the praises of his part­ner-in-rhyme ( A Fork in the Road), with Munro lend­ing in­stru­men­tal and vo­cal sup­port. It ends with his Scot­tish side­kick tak­ing high-regis­ter lead vo­cals on his self­com­posed ti­tle track. in­stru­men­ta­tion. Strange sounds, in­clud­ing bas­soon, screams, harps, flutes and synths, weave in and out through­out the un­du­lat­ing mu­si­cal tapestry. Perry’s voice is a stand­out and sounds in equal parts like Lior, Sting and Go­tye: shar­ing Lior’s smooth tim­bre, Go­tye’s pierc­ing pitch and Sting’s un­wa­ver­ing cries. Wal­rus is a punchy opener, com­plete with a funky gui­tar melody and ef­fer­ves­cent stac­cato back­ing vo­cals. Satan res­onates with per­cus­sive grooves, in­cludes a puls­ing spi­ral of gui­tar loops, and is adorned with sprin­klings of harp. Del­i­cate tunes, in­clud­ing In the Water, Ali­hukwe and Toxic City, demon­strate the beau­ti­ful res­o­nance of Perry’s vo­cals and his tal­ent for mak­ing the com­plex seem sim­ple. King Franco Pi­casso ends with won­der­ful clar­inet in­ter­play and Cor­ti­sol is a vor­tex of deep throbs, warped vo­cals and stri­dent drums. Oys­ter is a sweet yet dull end to an oth­er­wise ex­plo­sive al­bum. Over­all this is an am­bi­tious, sprawl­ing and psy­che­delic de­but that sat­is­fies the ap­petite yet leaves the taste­buds tin­gling. into seven dis­parate — and vary­ingly des­per­ate — lives in a south Lon­don neigh­bour­hood; the pro­tag­o­nists, united by the fact of be­ing wide awake at 4.18am, are oth­er­wise un­con­nected un­til a mon­strous storm breaks and they all step out of their homes for a com­mon drench­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

In the process, Tem­pest de­liv­ers a thought­pro­vok­ing state-of-the-world re­port, per­haps most ob­vi­ously on the out­stand­ing track Europe is Lost.

Rail­ing against wars, con­sumerism, cap­i­tal­ism and nar­cis­sism, she con­cludes with Tun­nel Vi­sion: “I’m out in the rain / It’s a cold night in Lon­don / And I’m scream­ing at my loved ones to wake up and love more …”

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