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Astronomy Class is the soaring new trio made up of Ozi Batla, Sir Robbo and Chasm. Their debut album, Exit Strategy, is a hook-laden hip hop record anchored in resinous dub and reggae. Combined with resonant and searching lyrics, it is set to be one of the albums of summer.
These three prolific musicians have looked to the stars for inspiration, aiming to bring a little outer-worldliness back to hip hop. The result: an album like nothing else out there. Crafted with a yearning for the classic raw soulfulness of old funk and reggae 45s, but with feet firmly grounded in 2006, this is a unique Australian hip hop album that casts its eye galaxy-wide for guidance. Not quite Roots Manuva, Che-Fu, or The Herd – this is blend of new and old that has its own character.
Something quite special has occurred in the pairing of reggae obsessed hip hop producers Chasm and Sir Robbo (Frigid, Tooth). Their melody-rich compositions are layered with samples that reference equally the sounds of 60/70s roots reggae and Motown, as well as a thousand other well kept secrets. The meticulously crafted beats and arrangements are full of vintage organs, live horns and melodica. Holding the groove together is the talented and in-demand bass player John Maddox.
Ozi Batla, frontman for The Herd, delivers some of his strongest lyrics to date, progressing forward with some beautifully sung harmonies to surprise those only familiar with the passionate polemics of 77%. While gliding through a spectrum of topics, be they political, humorous or personal, he reveals yet more maturity and a depth of talent.
Guests on the album include Lotek (Big Dada), Hau (Koolism), Urthboy and Jane Tyrrell (The Herd), BVA (Mnemonic Ascent), Ben Ezra (ESL), Gina Mitchell (Fbi’s Basslines) and DJ Skoob. Mixed at Mike Burnham’s Tardis Studios, his vintage analogue gear has imbued Astronomy Class’ Exit Strategy with grit and authenticity that is also evident on the three dubs that are included on the album.