Polyhymnia – The Muse of the art of hymns and mime (from Greek mythology)
Fliptrix has clearly mastered one particular aspect of his art that many of his peers worldwide struggle with: consistency. The High Focus Records founder is on the verge of releasing his fifth full length studio album and this particular record is the last in the trilogy that began with Third Eye Of The Storm and followed by The Road To The Interdimensional Piff Highway. The label seems to be going from strength to strength with its steady flow of high quality releases and this pattern is replicated in Fliptrix’s own work. How many artists do you know, of any genre, that have dropped five quality albums back-to-back?
Polyhymnia is a conceptual album with Greek mythology being the common thread and is fully produced by the clearly talented Molotov. Before going into Fliptrix’s work on this project, it’s well worth highlighting that Molotov has done a great job on the production front. From the soul sampling Jeheeze, unconventionally sounding Praise The Sun to the dub-inspired and horn-infused instrumental for Vultures; Molotov shows great versatility on all fourteen tracks and complements the vocals perfectly.
Polyhymnia, like pretty much every High Focus release we’ve come across, has got some incredible accompanying artwork. Not only on the cover, but also the liner notes and also the music videos as well (also see Praise The Sun video). The artwork for Polyhymnia was illustrated by the very talented Jaypee (jonnypackham.co.uk) who also did the artwork for Ramson Badbonez‘s last album. In an age of digital music, it really is a pleasure when artists/labels take time to ensure physical copies are something to treasure. This release even includes the lyrics to every song so if you feel like it, you can rap along to every track.
I think of life changing lyrics, they think of slogans. Commercial culture’s like an AIDS patient, when the mutations taken over. Soon to die, I won’t cry. I’ll celebrate as my body of work stands the test of time like it’s cryogenically frozen. – Fliptrix
The first single from the album, Vultures, dropped in August (see original post here) as an assault on the diluted nature of commercialised hip hop. This song seems to bring the High Focus ethos into one song as they assert the influence over the genre. The powerful rhymes and rather violent and dark video indicated that Fliptrix was not going to be doing things by halves on Polyhymnia. As mentioned above, Molotov’s production initially features some chilled out horns but as soon as the beat drops and Fliptrix starts rhyming it becomes much more energetic.
The second single, Praise The Sun featuring Rag N Bone Man, is frankly a rap song that has been overdue for at least a few million years. Accompanied by the powerful voice of Rag N Bone Man, Fliptrix has essentially penned a love letter to the star that sustains life on Earth (“This is my message to the sun, I love you like my mum“). Although we don’t see as much of it as we would like in the UK, we certainly do appreciate it when it does shine for us. The instrumental accompanies the message of the song perfectly, it reminds us of mellow Sunday evenings in the summer. It’s worth noting that the cuts on the outro to this song, provided by DJ Jazz T, are incredible so make sure you don’t hit skip before the end of the track.
The first two singles aside, track one on Polyhymnia is the rather catchy Jeheeze. The title refers to Flip’s signature ‘Jeheeze’ adlib. By the time the chorus starts on this you too, like we were, will probably be saying jeheeze out loud. Starting with a “Jeeees” soul sample, which to us sounds like Nina Simone but we couldn’t place the song. A high energy start to the album, you can imagine this being incredible live with the crowd participation. On that note, if you haven’t seen the High Focus gang live before, they’re well worth seeing (they’re currently touring for the release of this project, details below). The title track probably demonstrates Fliptrix’s versatility best. The instrumental is what we’ll rather lazily refer to as more of a conventional hip hop beat but it does contain some really interesting subtle sounds that make it very atmospheric. The flow does vary slightly as the song goes on and at times Fliptrix sounds like he’s adopting more of a grime flow but this only demonstrates the fact that he can adapt rather easily over instrumentals.
Polyhymnia, you are a piece and a part of me. You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul. The reason for my artistry. Physical to spiritual. Through rhyme we live in harmony, the reason for my inspiration. Listen to our life long dream” – Fliptrix
Following on comes the piano chord heavy third single Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. In fact the piano and organ keys lay the foundation for the music while Fliptrix slows things down to drop some uplifting rhymes as well as highlighting the fact that our time on this earth is limited and all should use that time conducively. Lean Star Gazer very much follows the same template as Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.
Alchemical Vessel features one of the most talented rapper to ever come out of the UK and Task Force member, Chester P and once again Jazz T on the cuts. The Warning seems like an introduction to a crime drama; suspenseful violin strings with a dabble of piano keys and police sirens seems like walk through Gotham City after dark. The instrumental accompanies the vocals perfectly as Fliptrix describes a the challenges of living in a metropolis like London.
Reflections is where the Four Owls make their appearance. The multi-layered instrumental has got so many ingredients to it but come together for a mellow symphony. Verb T‘s verse probably steals the show in terms of features. His rhymes drop the wisdom we’ve come to expect from him as on his most recent solo releases I Remain and Medicated Dreams. Wavey is a rather upbeat affair and slightly deviates from the metaphors and mythological terminology of the rest of the album. Molotov’s production on this is rather funky with trumpets and a nice little bass guitar running through the whole instrumental. We must also give a notable mention to Reclaim Your Mind (Outro). It doesn’t have Fliptrix rhyming on it at all but rather audio from some sort of lecture about the creation of culture through one’s creativity laced with a boom bap beat. The whole point of it is important not only because it is very well articulated by the lecturer but also because it summarises the themes covered on the conceptual project.
We’re told no, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral, get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that. Then you are a player and you don’t even want to play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of the dying world. – Unknown speaker on Reclaim Your Mind.
All aspects of this album considered, Fliptrix has once again managed to keep treading the fine line of consistency with his partner in crime, Molotov. The pair seems to have a certain chemistry that just seems to work. Probably a bit too early to call them the UK’s Guru and DJ Premier but the chemistry as far as the final product is concerned is just as seamless. The concept of Polyhymnia also seems to work very well across the whole project but especially in terms of the artwork, the rhymes and the outro. Definitely worth a purchase and we have no doubt a few of the tracks will get you saying “jeheeze” and hitting the rewind button.
Polyhymnia is out as of today on High Focus Records and is available on digital, CD and double vinyl. If you have yet to catch the High Focus roster of artists then check the Polyhymnia launch party dates below.