It's been a red hot minute since we last heard from Man Made Mountain, who shared their debut record back in 2016 led by big hit and personal favourite 'Cachaça' which made a big splash for the them in the hip hop scene. But since then, seemingly not too much has happened. There were a bunch of gigs and festivals around the time, including NYE On The Hill and playing alongside the likes of Nai Palm and Remi, but overall things have been pretty quiet over the past 4 years from this project.
But (almost) out of nowhere on Friday we got their follow up album 'Average Man'. It was a record teased late last year, but otherwise shared with us without much warning, and oh boy is this a well welcomed surprise to see and hear this week.
The 18 track album is everything you want from an alternative hip hip album, riddled with boom bap jazz rap production, soulful performances, impeccable vocal flow, interludes, and an all star guest list including Sampa The Great, N'fa Jones and Tom Scott. The tracks that carry this sound are sandwiched in between two voice message intro's and outro's - with the intro dated 2015 and the outro dated 2020, making this record feel like something that sums up the Melbourne/Naarm duo's previous five years.
'Average Man' is a record to dive into on a late Sunday night, with producer Billy Hoyle mixing the perfect flavours of laid-back sounds with vocalist Cazeaux O.S.L.O's seamlessly good and relaxing delivery. You hear this played out on tracks like 'Ride It Out', 'Drugs Don't Work', and 'Lie Wimme', landing the same feelings that A Tribe Called Quest and Anderson .Paak have perfected over the years.
Down the back end of the record is where we get to my favourite part of the album. 'Where Would I Go' is a peaceful and natural-sound track with this pulsing beat setting the scene of this sombre love story, with Danika Smith's vocals coming in to balance the story perfectly. After a quick interlude you get 'The Truth', another beautiful jazz-rap moment that get's bigger at the minute-forty mark when the literal greatest Sampa The Great steps in and does what she does best - nails it.
After that comes something I really would not have expected, but none-the-less all the more welcomed, is a spoken word break with 'Maunga Child' as written and performed by NZ poet Ria Masae. It's a moment to slow down the pace of a record and make you stop and pay close attention, listening carefully to what the poet has to say and share with us, is something I would love to see a lot more in music, having only really found it once before with Odette.
It makes 'Average Man' stand out a little bit more than it already does, giving us listeners and fans another reason to adore this record. From start to finish Man Made Mountain give us the feeling of a well-constructed mixtape with the use of many features and interludes, all tied together with production that works wonders across the 47 minutes.
For an album two days old at the time of writing this, I have no doubt it will find its way into my top lists at the end of the year. But until then, get into this album while it's hot from the oven, and sit back, find a comfy spot, and enjoy the crap out of it.