Australia has always been known for exporting interesting music like Severed Heads, Midnight Oil, The Lovetones, and Amateur Night In The Big Top but we rarely hear of dope Australian hip-hop. Bumblebeez 81 are a truly unique duo: a cross between The Beastie Boys, Beck, and Ween with a female emcee rocking the mic every once in a while. While much of the music is comprised of distorted lo-fi beats with experimental rock overtones, there is hip-hop in almost every single track too. The fact that they’ve supported both N*E*R*D and Radiohead also hints at their diversity, and this white male/female Australian duo have a love for the old-school flows and party anthems. Led by front man Christopher Colonna, the beats are loud, noisy and funky with deep, dirty basslines and a controlled use of distortion. Vila raps on a couple of tracks. Some may be annoyed by her voice and her lyrics but she does fit well with the experimental style. Produced by Invisibl and Mario C (from Beastie Boys fame), The Printz is an unusual and fun album that flows extremely well for experimental music. It’s actually a combination of two EPs called Red Printz and White Printz, but the music of Bumblebeez 81 is just so damn cool and truly unlike anything being released these days.
While the typical Bumblebeez 81 songs do not conform to a pop song structure, some are very catchy and instantly appealing. The instrumental opening, Ouno, is extremely short but has a tight groove. Step Back is a catchy way to open the album proper with Colonna’s singing. The indie spirit really awakens in I Come With Water. Reminiscent of a Cibo Matto song, Vila sings the hook: “I come with water to put out your fire”. She should do more singing, as it sounds great. Towards the end, Pink Fairy Floss, despite the title, sounds like a Prodigy track due to the hard-hitting beats. Vila’s vocals are echoed and repeated: “Raise your glass and a make a toast to the most!” Get Dressed is a mixture of The Strokes and Beck as Colonna sings: “Get dressed / We’re going out tonight” over and over again. Christopher Colonna does not let Vila take all of the hip-hop influences though. Brooklyn shows his Beastie Boys influences as the old-school pounding beat chugs along as his raps: “I left my baby in Brooklyn!”. Tracks like these could inspire some incredible remixes and collaborations.
Vila is an emcee you either get or you don’t. Her first solo track is Microphone Diseases. Using old-school deliveries and flows, her words do not always rhyme but the effort is there. Rappa is another solo track with some humorous lyrics. Vila rhymes, “…I wanna be a rapper not a check-out chick / Who goes on the mic for a price check on fish…” She’s having fun. There aren’t any deep messages or mind-blowing metaphors. Basically, it sounds like 2 people fooling around, making music in their bedroom.
The Printz by Bumblebeez 81 is not for everybody. Some may dismiss them as a bizarre duo who cannot decide if they are rock or hip-hop. Others may appreciate their ability to blend genres and their eagerness to get loose. While at first, it may sound like a cacophony of noise, Colonna’s music is very full and rich in funky rhythms and melodies. As an LP it flows very well. None of the songs are too long or too noisy to the point where they become avant-garde or headache inducing. Replay value is high since it goes back and forth from hip-hop to indie-rock. Who knows where they will go to next? As for now, the music just sounds cool. Get stung by Bumblebeez 81.
The Printz (2004)
Record Label: Geffen