It was BBC Introducing that first led me to Hector Bizerk and since what seems an age, the band have become something exceptional. People may question why I call them a band as many will deem them a hip hop outfit, but to me they are great musicians and even though MC Louie fronts this collective, drummer Audrey Tait is as much the essence of this formula along with their stunning full band.
Their debut album ‘Nobody Seen Nothing’ released this month has so much within it that it has taken numerous listens to even get a grasp of it – and so it should be. Between the crackerjack lyrical rhymes and the spontaneous musical gems scattered throughout, I still feel very inferior and almost scared to put into words how inspiring it is.
“Life is a song sheet on a off beat, thought percussive people walking on the concrete” – a line taken from the opening track ‘Orchestrate’ that in terms of imagery is up there, for me, with the likes of Philip Larkin. It does confirm the historical comments from individuals and Hollywood films that spitting rhymes is as much an artform as poetry and this is one of the numerous lines on the album that cements this. With reggae backbone moving to a classical fusion as its soundtrack, ‘Orchestrate’ could quite easily be replicated proudly even by The Roots live band.
My appreciation of hip hop stems from the likes of DJ Shadow’s 1996 album ‘Entroducing’ this was down to the significant use of scratching. Tracks on ‘Nobody Seen Nothing’ use the same ideals. I am not saying that this is the only time is has been done, but we all need our points of reference. ‘Fingerprints On The Drumkit’ and ‘Party At A & E’s’ use of scratching taps into my young love of discovering brand new music. The latter track ‘Party At A & E’ also has one of the best descriptions of a Saturday night emergency room you are likely to hear. There will be at least one image you will have experienced. “A good night out must come at a price” – whilst Louie’s descriptions conjure a knowing laugh, there is still a very dark undercurrent. Tremendous kudos must also go to their tip of a cap to KRS-One, a very clever use of his monster track ‘Sound Of Da Police’.
The track of the album for me is ‘Police St8’, the social allusions and commentary identifies the hypocrisy of a nation and will probably make you question how much of an example you are to a generation. Louie’s strengths lie in creating lyrics that are honest about his real life experiences. They also question everything in a way that is imaginative enough to make you feel like you are not reading a desperately boring newspaper article and absorbing it enough to provoke concerned thoughts. From a musical perspective, keyboard and percussive triplets combined in a lead up to an exquisite female choral imitation is nothing short of breathtaking.
‘Nobody Seen Nothing’ fully realises Hector Bizerk’s talents and potential. It maintains its cohesiveness despite how many diverse elements there are. I think we have to also recognise that the first point of comment may be that this is Scottish hip hop and whilst a wonderful ambassador for this country, there has to come a time when we want to let art cross the boundary lines of a country and reach other ears. With ‘Nobody Seen Nothing’, Hector Bizerk are ready to run. Please accept this album far and wide.