Australian instrumental hip-hop producer Aoi has self-released a number of albums and mixtapes in his short career from 2008, collaborated with American underground rappers like Jak Tripper, TMFSE, GDP and Noemotion Goldmask, released a vinyl edition of LP Funnelweb on Melbourne label Wax Museum Records, and is inspired by dead things and David Lynch.
Aoi has a number of other projects ranging from bass music project Kitburner to DJing techno as Sarah Quill at local cult night Trans Melbourne Xprss, to his recently revealed enigmatic MC persona Prince Mackerel aka Slums McKenzie. He is also a part of rap and beats crew L-Burn Illuminati, whose MCs and producers include Class A, Mr DNA, Epps, Tigermoth and DOS4GW.
Aoi’s latest offering – IXHA-94 – was produced in less than 24 hours. It’s a refreshing back-to-basics take in an era packed with VSTs and synthesis. The raw sample-based method of production reminds one of golden-age times of east coast hip-hop production. The sixteen tracks – with the exception of ‘Black Roses’ – are all less than three minutes in length, and stand well as complete individual works, rather than as Zomby-like sketches.
My first couple of listens were difficult for me to review, as the album can float easily like air into the sub-conscious. You could also have a lot of fun trying to identify the myriad of both samples used from Aoi’s extensive vinyl collection. We won’t spoil the mysteries by identifying them for you, and plus I’ll admit my knowledge isn’t anywhere near his encyclopedic knowledge of music.
‘Super VHS’ utilises Aoi’s sci-fi and anime sampling, laid with other vocal samples before laying a steady boom-bap loop complete with vinyl crackling and eerie strings. IXHA-94 then jumps into soul-funk track ‘Pre-Bumps’, which has a sensual undulating bassline laid with seductive guitar licks. ‘Work yr way backwards’ paces menacingly, and the drums patterning in this touches nicely on the ears.
‘Korx beat’ carries on in bare-bones minimalistic fashion, and then the album slows down in ‘Phalanx1’ which goes back to the grimey trademark stylings reminiscent of Aoi’s earlier work in album Funnelweb. After freeform interlude ‘Constellation’, things get more hype with Kool G Rap-influenced upbeat drum breaks in ‘Nilpoj (for Percee P)’, and then slow back down into the sleazy and funky guitar-driven ‘Drugpunk’.
The album continues in Aoi’s token lo-fi hissy drums and menacing overlaying, with stand-outs in the jazzy drum breaks of ‘brdcrmbs’, the vocal whimsy of ‘octwv/As it was meant to be’, and the vintage hype of ‘gateway drums’.
In summary, IXHA-94 is for those who like their beats OG, those who like sample spotting, and for those who like “real hip-hop”. It’s a refreshing glimpse past steroid-pumped and ultra-clean contemporary electronica, and relieves nostalgia of vintage beats still ever-present to diggers and producers of foundational hip-hop.
You can’t really fault this album for sheer speed of time in production. Less than 24 hours?! Wow.
8.25 out of 10 Haarp Strings.
IXHA-94 is available in a variety digital formats from Bandcamp for $6.66.
Written by Kristian Hatton.