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Peepz are still talking about an Avalanches comeback album. Who friggin’ cares? Most of the disco-hop posse have drifted off, anyway. Much more tangible, and potentially symbolic, for Australian urban culture is the return of Melbourne’s 1200 Techniques — MC N’fa Jones, DJ/producer Peril and guitarist Kemstar — who have been on hiatus since 2004.
The 1200s’ reunion was heralded last year by graff artist Adnate’s landmark piece in Fitzroy — which, it turns out, is now the cover image of this five-track EP (six, if you count a bonus CD-only remix). The trio aired the breezily explanatory single Time Has Come — the musical equivalent of a press release — with Jones singing soulfully and rapping. In December, the 1200s performed a mid-week show at that local hipster den Howler. There’s talk of more touring.
1200 Techniques, a bona-fide band, were one of the earliest Oz hip hop acts to go mainstream in the late ’90s. Backed by Sony, they charted with singles (Karma catapulted into the Top 10 in 2002) and albums, won ARIAs, and played Big Day Out. They also copped flak from the ‘heads’ for sacrilegiously adding guitar, although their music was, like Skunkhour, always a mash-up of hip hop, electro and funk-rock.
Watch: 1200 Techniques – Time Has Come
That 1200 Techniques are resurfacing is surprising, as just recently Jones issued an impressive second solo album, the boldly experimental Black + White Noise, liaising with Remi cohorts Sensible J & Dutch. He has finally forged his own identity. Notably, Peril is the driver of this reboot, having stockpiled beats over the past decade, and his brother Kem and Jones are along for the trip.
These tracks certainly don’t sound like they’ve been sitting on a hard drive for years, yet they do exude a retro-nuevo vibe, being if not boom-bap then breakbeat-bolstered rock-hop. While Jones’ album crossed into post-Drake cloud rap, Peril, an eternal B-boy, has conspicuously avoided obvious contemporary tropes, such as bassy wobbly bits.
Switch lies somewhere between vintage Run-DMC and Fatboy Slim’s ‘funky’ festival big beat. The most leftfield song, Undress My Soul, in the mould of Fork…, is percussive and psychedelic. Speed Of Light is what Arthur Baker might be doing now – fashionably hybridised electro – and Move On hints at Stereo MC’s. The ’90s revival, it seems, is as strong as ever.
Listen: 1200 Techniques – Time Has Come