As with many Australian hip hop artists, a listener’s response to Mathas may be at least in part dictated by how adverse they are to the Australian accent in song. That said, Armwrestling Atlas’ ear-catching, genre-bending production and Mathas’ witty lyricisms ensure that this album may surprise even the most intense of Australian hip hop haters.
It took six years for Mathas to make Armwrestling Atlas, and it shows. The album is meticulously arranged, with fantastic production throughout. Influences are detectable (elements of Yeezus and Boards of Canada can be heard at times) but never duplicated, as Mathas never really ends up sounding like anyone but Mathas. Here and there, he throws in some oddball samples that add intrigue, such as what sounds like an archival piece of audio about Perth on “Enforce Less”.
Mathas is a man of many words, so fittingly there is plenty to unpack in the dense lyrics. Throughout the course of the album, he takes aim at issues such as police corruption (“Enforce Less”), substance abuse (“Doctorshopping”), Indigenous oppression (“Nourishment), animal abuse (“Puppies In Fishtanks Redux”) and more, with an adequate dose of (sometimes dark) humour. Mathas is at his best when he makes the political personal, as on “Nourishment”, which has an excellent contribution from Abbe May. All of this is delivered in a flow that often sounds a bit like Mathas is just having a particularly stimulating conversation, and he just happens to be talking quite fast.
If Armwrestling Atlas is anything to go by, Mathas is certainly one of the more promising artists in the local hip hop scene. He has created a sound for himself, taking influence from a range of genres and mixing them into one seamless and fluent sound. It helps that there aren’t too many out there with the same knack for writing such sharp lyrics. Armwrestling Atlas hits more than it misses, and is a satisfying effort from a very intriguing act.
IN loved Mathas at his live shows at State of the Art and Hyperfest, and Daniel gave this album 7 Wiggity Grubs out of 10. Check out the awesome bundles available through his webstore over at The Community.
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