Muph & Plutonic – ‘…And Then Tomorrow Came’

August 11, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: The Vine, August 5, 2008.

Muph & Plutonic
…And Then Tomorrow Came
(Obese)

The fact that Melbourne hip-hop linchpins Muph & Plutonic aren’t bigger than what they are has always seemed something of a cultural transgression. Drawing from the paradoxical qualities of Muph’s plainspoken, outer-suburban twang and Pluto’s soul-fried instrumentation and production sophistications, the pair have plotted one of the most unlikely and utterly unique hip-hop trajectories going around. 2004 debut Hunger Pains and brilliant 2006 follow-up Silence the Sirens proved two of the strongest of their ilk.

After spending time with consummate third long-player …And Then Tomorrow Came, Muph & Plutonic’s relative obscurity veers from transgression towards outright crime. Put simply, the pair – known to their mums as Dan Young and Leigh Ryan – have crafted one of the finest pieces of domestic product to surface thus far.

Over 13 cuts, Pluto visits rugged organic soul, shimmering dub and reggae inflection, stunningly unobtrusive orchestrations and flunk-flecked four-four; Muph, meanwhile, spits his most unguarded, vulnerable and downright affecting verses yet. It’s a huge step on all counts. Smoking opener ‘The Damn Truth’ sees Pluto ply a crisp, live drum break and bass line to a rugged Madlib hook; ‘Balloon Heads’ has Muph trading ego-tearing verses with vocalist Kye over an echoing dub rhythm; ‘Number 45’ layers swooning hooks with proud suburban reflections.

It’s only the start – genuine highlights abound. The shimmering melodic groove and pealing horns of first single ‘Size of the Soul’, the psyche wig-out of the title track (with infamous local songwriter/man-about-town Pete Lawler on vocal), and the sticky funk hook of ‘Show Me Your Face’ (featuring the suger-sweet vocals of Jess Harlen) all hit the mark. But it’s when things get personal that Muph & Plutonic take it to another level. The skeletal, finger-picked guitar and stark lyrical introspections of ‘Yesterday’s Basement’, and the angular hook and popping beats beneath Muph’s harrowing diary of addiction on ‘Sleep’ are a couple of the finest, most genuinely moving pieces of local hip-hop yet.

For all its qualities, the best thing about …And Then Tomorrow Came is the fact that it’s still just hip-hop, still just a simple sum of its subtleties. While Pluto again proves himself the finest producer in the land, he achieves his plaudits via understatement – his beats are for his rapper, not his reputation. Muph, meanwhile, may not be the most eloquent of MCs, but his unbridled honesty and considered street-level musings make for some of the most authentic and convincing verses you’ll hear – forget sweeping political generalisations, forget gestures of grandiosity.

The equation makes for one of the great Australian hip-hop records. If …And Then Tomorrow Came doesn’t get some serious recognition, there’s a problem, and a big one.

Dan Rule

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