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Falling & Flying [Limited Edition]
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  • Delayed by 12 months to allow his recovery from a go-karting accident that nearly cost him his life, Falling & Flying, the second album from Melbourne rap battle MC Matt Colwell, aka 360, shows that the hip-hop scene down under is certainly in rude health. Released in the same year as career bests from Drapht and Bliss N Eso, the follow-up to 2008's What You See Is What You Get continues to prove Australia's worth as an underrated urban hotspot, with a hugely inventive 13 tracks that take in everything from early Daft Punk-ish electro ("I'm OK") to downbeat jazz-rap (Josh Pyke collaboration "Throw It Away") to summery G-funk ("Just Got Started"). Elsewhere, the Ultravox-sampling "Killer" combines chiming indie guitars with a booming bassline and robotic synth pop beats, the atmospheric title track begins with a ghostly choral intro before surrendering to an array of minimal bleeps and clattering rhythms, while "Run Alone" blends shoegazing riffs with '70s AOR harmonies and acidic electro house. But despite the "everything but the kitchen sink" production from the likes of Styalz Fuego, '98 Bulls, and M-Phazes, you're never left in any doubt as to who the star of the show is. Indeed, other than the crude expletive-laden dubstep of "Hammerhead," the album's only real clunker, Falling & Flying showcases both a refreshing self-deprecation and maturity largely absent from his more renowned heroes' output. On the Streets-esque ska of "Boys Like You," he tries to convince us that his "playa" reputation is now in the past; on the live-sounding "Child," he addresses the issues surrounding his alcoholic uncle and bullied brother; and on the grandiose finale, "Hope You Don't Mind," he exposes his vulnerability as he reels off a list of his insecurities against a backdrop of dramatic piano chords, muted beats, and sweeping strings. Not exactly known for its hip-hop prowess, Australia has now produced three albums in 2011 alone that are worthy of competing with anything the U.K. or U.S. has to offer. ~ Jon O'Brien
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