By: Steve Habibi Kelk
Hard-working and well-respected young Darwin rapper Requiem (Clayton Bennett) launched his long-awaited LP Louvres.
Originally from Victoria, this affable young man has made the Top End his home in recent years and has immersed himself in the local music scene, gaining traction in the laid-back but still dynamic Hip-Hop culture of the tropical North. Always polite and immaculately turned-out, Requiem has built a reputation for setting his own style, where substance trumps form and self-respect trumps melancholy. As this man matures, so does his world view and this is reflected in his latest offering.
Louvres, as the name suggests, invokes imagery of Requiem’s adopted tropical hood. Anyone who’s lived in Darwin or indeed even visited and ventured out into the older ‘burbs will understand the metaphor – viewing the world though dust coated louvre windows, so popular and functional in tropical house design in the Top End. There are many references to the Northern Territory and Darwin in this LP – some direct and some oblique, but all observational of the environment Requiem moves in. Darwin is a small city, but it tends to have a big impact on the people that move here from somewhere else – there’s no element of a big city boy dumbing himself down in the country town – Requiem lives here and his voice is from here.
There are a few collaborators on this excellent LP and from pleasantly diverse places and genres – Alice Springs singer-songwriter Dave Crowe lends himself to the title track Louvres, as does his Red Centre stable-mate Jacinta Price on the track False. John Coulehan, the charismatic front-man of Darwin rockers Roymackonkey provides a stirring backdrop on Tropical Low while Darwin MC Kouf and Alice Springs MC Skank give extra depth to Up North. R & B soulstress Abbey Rose fills out Early AM with eloquence. Early AM was a finalist in the 2014 NT Song of the Year Awards.
Of the eleven excellent tracks on the LP, False is the stand-out in this writer’s opinion – the stirring vocals of Jacinta Price layers this song perfectly and counterpoints Requiem’s more somber-sounding low end dialogue much in the same way that treble counterpoints bass. It is a hand-in-glove situation and just works.
Tropical Low also rates a special mention – it encapsulates the tension of waiting for the big blow to hit the easy-going, but vulnerable Top End capital. In this track, Requiem takes us through his thoughts on now being a Territorian after some years in town and watching the city’s skyline change with high rise development – something that all Darwinites can appreciate. The song then menaces us with the threat of the cyclone that we all know will happen one day… ” roof ripped off by violent air – Mother Nature ain’t fighting fair”. He builds the tension well and if you’ve ever lived through the threat of a cyclone, you’ll relate.
Requiem gave us a sneak-peek of the title track Louvres by performing it live with Dave Crow at the 2015 InTune Music Conference Showcase earlier this year. The track describes Top End life to a ‘T’ with a slightly dreamy landscape that gets pleasantly stuck your head. Crowd reaction to this and other tracks spoke for itself – as did Requiem’s grin. He knew he nailed it and well done to him. We’re sure that the conference delegates were similarly impressed.
Production-wise, this LP is solid with input from the inimitable James Mangohig, Dave Crowe and jayteehazard, Kris Keo, Marine Boy, Ciecmate, David Walker and of course Requiem himself as Executive Producer. Caiti Baker shows her versatility in designing the cover with photography from the very talented Elise Derwin.
Louvres is proof-positive that hard work, as well as talent, is what’s required to succeed in this game.