We get it - choosing where to start with all the stacks of great new music each week can be a daunting task. 'The Music' team are here to help though, bringing you our Album Of The Week each Friday. Here's why we're loving TELL's debut album, 'Soundtrack To The End Of The World'.
TELL describe themselves as a 'sci-fi hip hop' duo and honestly, we were sold on that before we even got to the album.
After years of frequently collaborating on their own projects, this is the first time highly respected artists Mantra and Grey Ghost come together officially as TELL with their debut album Soundtrack To The End Of The World.
"We approached writing this album like making a soundtrack to a film about the end of the world; like the record you put on when you know the ship is sinking," the duo say of the album.
Years in the making, Soundtrack To The End Of The World draws inspiration in everything Wu-Tang Clan to George Orwell to become one of Australia's strongest hip hop releases of the year.
What they're saying...
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Mantra takes us track-by-track through the album.
This is probably the most audacious track on the whole record. It was kinda tough figuring out where it would work best in the running order, because it’s quite up-tempo and super hard. In the end I figured it should just be the opener, get all the cards on the table from the jump. It was a really fun song to write. Suburban Dark gave us the beat, which sounded more like something by The Prodigy than a hip hop group, so we went with that. We basically tried to write an upbeat, dancefloor-ready party jam that addresses the most messed up aspects of humanity, which is pretty much the vibe for this entire project.
I think this is my favourite song we’ve done together. It actually started off as a solo track, but Grey Ghost ended up writing one of the illest verses of all time (!), plus the hook line – "the de-evolution it will be televised". The verses are really erratic in terms of subject matter, kinda like a big angry rant from both of us, so the simplicity of the hook really brings everything together in a cool way. It’s also a nice little nod to Gil Scott Heron, who is a huge inspiration for both of us. I love this song because it nails the mood we were striving for on the album, whilst still allowing us to just throw down on the mic a bit.
32 Winters is one of the more thoughtful, reflective moments on the record. Our homie Dizz1 provided the beat and Grey Ghost came up with the concept, which started with the chorus. It’s basically us looking back on where our lives have led us, the highs and the lows, the unexpected turns, the challenges and setbacks. We look at some of the struggles we’ve faced, some of our disappointments, some ways we feel we could’ve been better. The response to this song has been amazing, which is really heartening. When you write such an honest and personal song, you’re really opening yourself up which can be very daunting, but I think people really appreciate that honesty and connect with it. I know how impactful music can be, so to know your own music can have that impact in people’s lives is a humbling feeling.
One of the first joints GG and I ever did together was Mad With It; a song about embracing the insanity of the world, accepting it and rolling with it. In a lot of ways that song laid the foundation for all our future collaborations and Circus is pretty much an extension of that idea. It’s one of the more interesting beats on the album - a co-production between Hamley and Cam Bluff - which made us really wanna mess with some different flows and experiment with phrasing and song structure. There’s no hook, but there are a few recurring themes and motifs, including the line "we are living in a circus", a line we often hear but has never been more true. We use the circus metaphor in different ways throughout the song; it’s such a ripe way to reflect the state of humankind. We’re the animals. We’re the abusers. We’re the hungry audience demanding more and we’re the greedy merchants selling the tickets. As dark as the concept sounds, it actually came to me while I was drinking beer in a hammock on a beach in Malaysia. Not the darkest time in my life but there you go.
Welcome To The Future
This was actually one of the first beats we sourced for this album. It was made by Damn Moroda, one of our all-time favourite producers (and people). The synth lines in it reminded me of classic sci-fi movie scores, so that kind of inspired the concept for the song. Brexit had just happened, Trump had been elected, groups like Reclaim Australia were popping up and getting a lot of attention and far-right politicians were gaining support both here and overseas. It was terrifying. The song became a sci-fi type projection of a dystopian future, where Australia has become a war zone and a wasteland. It takes things like the White Australia Policy, One Nation, Reclaim Australia, our government’s treatment of (and our country’s fear of) refugees and asylum seekers, and follows them to an extreme point, where fear and paranoia consume and destroy us. GG came up with the hook and screamed it into a megaphone, adding to the general sense of apocalypse.
Life (Is A Mother Fucker)
This is the first tune we wrote and released for the project. It’s another banger from Damn Moroda and it set the tone nicely for the rest of the album. We didn’t really set out initially to write a concept album but that’s kinda what ended up happening. This song looks at how genuinely insane modern society is; some of the extreme, violent and crazy aspects of humanity and how normalised they’ve become. But the point - as always - is to make you dance, not cry. We’re kinda saying ‘life is pretty fucked up, so let’s acknowledge that and shout about it and dance to it’.
Red is a deep cut for sure. It’s one for the trippers. It’s what happens when GG and I are left to our own devices. The beat is jilted, weird and psychedelic (yet another Damn Moroda creation) and our lyrics and vocal performances try to match all that as much as possible. We trade bars through the whole track but also take turns cutting across different time signatures and polyrhythms in the beat. The song is about perception (Aldous Huxley gets a few references early) and how much it depends on the individual. It’s called Red because colour is often used as an example for how we can never truly know how another person perceives things. A line in one of my verses goes, “How do I know if death is true? How do I know the difference between red and blue? How do I know if red for me is red for you?” We’ve always been fascinated by the human mind and how the lines between perception and reality can blur.