Bliss N Eso- Circus In The Sky


By Andrew

Look, this album has been #1 on the iTunes charts since before it was even released so its no doubt this was a highly anticipated Australia release. But does it live up to the hype? Yes and no. The puerility in Eso’s lyricism is still there, the anger and f-bombs/c-bombs are still there, but aside from some brilliant production from M-Phazes and a few lyrical gems, this is almost exactly the same as the last two releases. More introspective nostalgic BNE-isms (no pun intended) with a few obligatory scratches from Dj Izm.

But there are some shining lights on the album. ‘Animal Kingdom’ brings it so hard on the album and it’s the first track that steers away from the saccharin lyrical substance BNE have become famous for. There’s the usual references to Bill Hicks, Hunter S Thompson etc but that beat cracks like nothing I’ve heard in a while. The scratching by Ism actually has some platform in the track, the only drama is it’s so short and its then back into the more homogenous BNE sound after that. Later in the album ‘Reservoir Dogs’ comes back and as the obligatory hip-hop “crew” track on the album, its pretty damn good. The video is something special to but smacks of trying too hard. But as the album gets on, the depth of the songs gets better and better. By the time ‘Next Frontier’ and ‘My Life’ start, you’re in the BNE groove. You know what to expect, and at least they deliver consistently.

BNE have a way with words which I have almost studied for years since first hearing them on their mixtape ‘The Arrival’, back when they were Blissnesoterikizm. Their ability to create vivid metaphors instead of the stock standard similes of most hip-hop set them apart. They haven’t lost that ability but gone are the brilliance of lines like “I love boobs; they cushion my hands, I love dogs so much I push them in prams” and other gem-like writing they have pioneered. I’m sure over the coming weeks and months of listening I will find more gems in Circus in the Sky, but in the old days of BNE they used to jump out at you and grab your throat viciously. Now they just sit there expecting you to appreciate them like so much modern art in a gallery. Is that what I want in my Oz hip-hop? Not really and it makes me fear the future for Bliss n Eso.

The production on this release is of the highest caliber and its not surprising as M-Phazes is on the beats. Phazes is probably our best current producer and consistently brings home the goods time after time. I gotta give respect where its due to Phazes on this album. People might criticise the positive affirmation broken record feel of the lyrical content but I defy anyone to take a shot at the production. Beat selection, samples and finer tweaks on the album are some of his best and by far ahead of a lot of the industry in Australia right now. I’d go so far as to say in the world right now – that’s how good it is.

This can also be said for the collaborators lyrically on the album. American heavyweight NAS, Forthwrite (Pez and 360) Drapht, Seth Sentry, Drapht, ex-Idol crooner Daniel Merriwether, Ceekay Jones and more. This has some draw on it and this is partly due to their likeability and party due to their label. When you are on a label run by Matt Gudinski (Micheal’s son) you have touring power and collaborative strength that every hip-hop artist in Australia wishes they could have. Except for the ‘Crew’ track, everyone puts in powerful performances that shine and none more so that NAS’s. He brings an intelligence and credibility to the track ‘I Am Somebody’ which shows they always think outside the box. Similarly bringing Xzibit into previous releases had the same effect, these boys have respect for those who came before as they become oldies themselves.

This is not the worst album of this year but it probably won’t be the best. I’m sure it will take out the ARIA for best urban work and win a slew of industry awards, but for discerning fans its just more of the same. I could be less harsh on this aspect, but after being hit in the face with ‘Yeezus’ earlier this month, I expected more from one of my favourite Australian artists.

(p.s sick album art, as always – friggin awesome!)


7.5/10 These C*nts Again {Abrasive Andy}

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