The Astute Aussie

Macromantics' Heavy Flow

White. Female. Australian. Rapper. These words rarely appear in the same sentence. But with the debut album by Macromantics (Romy Hoffman), Moments in Movement, this alien concept blossoms into vibrant, verbose life. The disc (released in January by Kill Rock Stars) is a startling bow that ought to turn heads while nodding them to its off-kilter productions.

Macro's thoughts teem in dense, internal-rhyme-heavy lyrics on Moments. Tongue-in-cheeky self-aggrandizing and wordplay revelry mingle among heavier themes detailing relationship perils, existentialism, and religious beliefs. Delivered in rapid, staccato bursts that alternate with brash, sing-songy choruses, Macro's quirky verses match her producers' unconventional musical backing. Knob-twiddlers Buchman, Joker 70, Oakland's Yoko Solo, and Tekromantik provide knottily funky and strident orchestral backdrops over which Macro spits weird and wise. Two standouts are "Miss Macro," a flurry of triumphal brass flutters and tense, shrieking reeds that falls somewhere between grime and dubstep, and "Vaudeville," whose madly angled and warped IDM causes serious disorientation.

Macro's entry into the African-American-male-dominated rap world had an unlikely genesis: While on a U.S. tour as a 15-year-old guitarist with pop band Noise Addict in 1995, she got hooked on hip-hop legends Nas, KRS-One, and Wu-Tang Clan.

Macromantics: big mouth, bigger ideas.
Macromantics: big mouth, bigger ideas.

Details

Macromantics performs as part of Noise Pop on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Bottom of the Hill at 8 p.m. Admission is $12; call 626-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com for more info.
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"I was drawn to the tell-it-how-it-is nature of rap and how the medium was used to spread a message and document a self in a specific time and place," Macro recounts. "[B]eing in America, I saw firsthand how explosive hip hop was as a movement. How it was more than just music — it was and is a dialect, a lifestyle, an attitude, a reaction ... It reminded me of punk rock, of music that was commenting on society and culture that made itself out of nothing. I began writing raps after that. The way it is a pastiche and collage of everything, rap is a perfect form of writing for me."

The loquacious MC claims that she's influenced by everything from "philosophers to films to conversations with friends to dreams to world affairs ... I see what I do as a form of journalism."

One listen to Moments will convince you that Macro's art is serious as life, despite its occasional lyrical tomfoolery. "[M]y tracks come into being because it is survival for me and an extension of self, like another limb," she says.

Despite being a hip-hop anomaly, Macro doesn't fear being called a novelty. Her advanced skills should dispel misguided dismissals from the industry purists. Whatever the case, Macro ain't sweating potential haters.

"I see myself as an infinite being. I am in no way inhibited or limited by my gender. I have luckily never felt disadvantaged as a female. [F]or me, hip hop is primarily about the message rather than the gender or skin color of the person behind the message," she says. "Unfortunately, [our] society still obsesses over gender stereotypes. I'm sure some will see me as a novelty, but I believe in myself and my work, and I know I am sincere and am good at my craft."

Indeed. Perusing Macro's prolix lyrics in the CD booklet requires serious concentration, but the payoff is maximal. "I think [my lyrics are] dense because the world is, and there is so much to comment on. There are layers upon layers of intricacies going on, [and] I'd like to think my album has that same system. My work mirrors myself and the world — it's complex."

 
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