Review: Oisima creates a soundtrack to my dreams with ‘Nicaragua Nights’

It’s finally here. After two years, Adelaide’s Oisima (real name Anth Wendt) has finally released his debut album, Nicaragua Nights – an exercise in genre-blending, soundscapes and experimentalism that can only mean good things to come his way. In short, Nicaragua Nights is a total dream.

From the first few seconds of album opener, Indios, with it’s shimmering strings, warped synths and gradual layers leading into crisp, sunny hip hop beats, it became clear just how much had gone into this album. Flowing seamlessly into saxophone led Grovers Lament, the vibe somehow gets even more relaxed, almost coaxing you into completely letting go. Soulful vocal samples and subtle intricacies play lightly over the bed of saxophone and fresh beats, swirling and twirling together. This is a recurring theme for many tracks on the record, like rolling, swelling Cactus Canyon or the smooth and laidback Mmhmm… Each track blends into the other, to create a whole project or sound. But even with this concept in mind, there are clear standouts, including one of the few vocal led tracks, featuring Annabel Weston.

The best thing about Oisima is the absence of vocals doesn’t have the slightest effect on his music. With or without lead vocals, the track is just as full and emotive. However, it is hardly hindered with the addition of Weston’s voice like in Makes Me Feel Alright. Her voice is the perfect match for Oisima, the two really becoming a formidable force – much like what we heard in 2013 (and later in the album) with Everything About Her. The tropical bliss Oisima cooks up alongside Weston’s voice in Makes Me Feel Alright makes me feel more than alright, and is a clear stand out for the album. From there, we move into the sole hip hop track,Missin’ You Now, although Oisima’s hip hop influences are heard throughout the entire LP. Danny Watts and Sam Al deliver up some unreal verse that once again fit snugly amongst the dreamy soundscape Oisima has created. The lyrics and flow delivered by the two emcees take the track to another level, as they rap about more than your standard Aussie hip hop. With each track, Oisima continues to elevate his music, and when complimented by these two on the mics, things get really, really good.

Continuing the onwards and upwards journey, personal favourite Sidewalk Cerve ses glides in. Vocal samples echo throughout as the looped synth noises clang and reverberate through the track. Playing with fantastic beats and more samples, Oisima gets a groove going in this track that isn’t easily done. The layers are meticulous, with Wendt really flexing his muscles as a beatmaker. This continues as one of the best tracks of last year begins – the Mei Saraswati featuring Sun of Truth. A clear standout not only on this record, not only in Oisima’s back catalogue, but of 2014 all up, this has been my fucking jam for a good few months now, and will continue to be for some time.

Ending the album on a high, Everything About Her, Summertime Shuffle and the sprawling, meditative epic that is Take Your Time, the album ends and you suddenly feel as if you’ve awoken from an incredibly soundtracked dream. Infusing jazz, hip hop, world music and electronica, Nicaragua Nights leaves no question at all that Oisima has been sitting on something really good for a while, and the wait was well and truly worth it. By biding his time, he has managed to craft a stunning and flawless record the blends so many genres it could be classed as something entirely his own. Nicaragua Nights is the soundtrack you would imagine a perfect acid trip to be, but it’s so well done you hardly need the chemical enhancement to go on it’s journey. I have a feeling there won’t be many contenders on this level for 2015, so congratulations Anth Wendt – a job extremely well done.