Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra – Welcome To The Neighbourhood

As a rule, hip-hop tracks are born from electronics – samples, loops, and lines created from zeroes and ones, with lyrics dropped on top. The bonkers-but-accurately named Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra turns this on its head and inside out. Hsu performs as a one-man live orchestra (and it is a pretty full orchestra) with guests brought in to cover the vocals. On his latest he collaborates with several artists who provide mic duties (Anisa Nandaula, Cieavash Arean, Neema Doostkhah, Naavikaran) and the innocence of his wonky live instrumentation stands in sharp contrast to the direct and uncomfortable social justice message of the vocals. It is a magnificent and powerful track, brilliantly conceived – all the more so for its unorthodox execution. This is required listening for its message first and foremost, but also for the extraordinary skill of the performers involved in its unconventional method.