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Macromantics - Moments in Movement

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Artist: Macromantics

Album: Moments in Movement

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Review date: Feb. 6, 2007

Moments in Movement, the debut album by Australian hip-hop upstart Macromantics, introduces American listeners to a performer who raps like an Uzi but whose style weighs a ton. The album’s production is crisp and Ms. Macro’s raps are impressive if for no other reason than her physicality. Macromantics raps in a hurried staccato, her breaths between bars less a pause than a post hurdled mid-dash. But when spread across 10 songs, Macromantics’ acceleration becomes a feat of endurance, a steeple chase rather than an explosive sprint.

Macromantics’ delivery is quick and stuttering. At times, her raps sound not so much like an expression of ideas but a layer of percussion, furnishing an additional rhythm complementing but also distinguishing itself from the backbeat. It is a style reminiscent of Aesop Rock or even Das EFX, and, as in the case of the latter two, the emphasis on cadence can be simultaneously inviting and completely distracting. As compelling as rhyming every five syllables may be on paper, often the jagged schemes are rendered aurally jarring. At the summits of Moments, Macromantics rhymes evoke the fine balance of propelling intensity and clarity of phrasing that one might associate with a Buddy Rich solo. Too regularly, however, her privileging of form over substance is underwhelming in its tongue-twisting excess. To wit, as best as I can parse it, the chorus of “Eerily Spookily” - a title whose doubly-adverbial meaninglessness may, by itself, prove Macromantics’ appetite for the verbose - goes something like: "This is eerily spookily / If you hear maybe you can see / A theory of music means / This here is a cube of cheese / Peering through roofs of the free / Fearing the roots and trees." Although the words in print read more childish than they sound recorded, they are equally ostentatious and hollow.

On her Myspace page - undoubtedly, a source of journalistic, if not Keats-ian, verity - Macromantics lists Lester Bangs, the token scribe of overindulgence, as an influence on her work. Bangs’ penchant for amphetamine-induced ramblings is a constant presence on Moments. Abstention is not their best suit - neither Bangs nor Ms. Macro seems to have met a polysyllabic phrase they did not like. But like rock criticism’s enfant terrible, Macromantics can form pleasant eddies in the deluge of language. These episodes are unfortunately limited on Moments. “Vaudeville,” near the album’s conclusion, is the most interesting song on Moments, a track consisting of two plodding tones atop an industrial shuffle, recalling the blunted and dystopian compositions of Company Flow and UK grime. The minimalist jog of “Vaudeville” serves as an excellent counterpoint for Macromantics’ complexly intertwined style, creating difference and even symmetry amid Moments’ egregious consistency of speed. Although parts of the song are over the top - most notably, Macromantics’ fits of screaming - the contrast of music to words is exemplary of what she is capable.

As a first endeavor, Moments in Movement is above average, a solid but not giant step. What Macromantics lacks, it seems, is not talent - she has a vocabulary and stamina that could put many a parliamentary debater to shame - but maturity. In time, Macromantics could become a champion rapper. But sometimes winning the races requires knowing when to slow down.

By Ben Yaster

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