27 Sep 2021

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Dillastrate - EP Review: Narrative

12 Aug 2021 // A review by Cathy Elizabeth

I was excited to review Dillastrate after I saw them play live in Wellington recently and absolutely loved their energy and musicianship. I must admit I was playing catch-up from there, and after having had a quick listen to their previous album, I have to say that Narrative is definitely a step up; both in production value and over-all song crafting. There are some real bangers on this EP that are going straight onto my play list!

Kicking off with Through the Vein, Henare 'H' Kaa (drums, lead vox) and Tim Driver (keyboards, loops, vox) deliver a stonking introduction of what’s to follow. I’m loving the rock edge which is giving the track big Kora and L.A.B feels, and that clavi throughout is just perfect. A BIG song all round, giving the listener plenty to hold onto.

The popular June 2021 single Party in My Head follows with its inescapable infectiousness. Likeable from the very first listen, the simple acoustic guitar and keys intro is very nicely done. Kaa’s vocals are quite irresistible, as is the hook, which now has me humming along as the chorus bursts into life. The constraint shown in the editing room has really paid off, creating a lot of wonderful space in the track which allows it to really breathe and glide. The addition of the female vocal break by Emily C Browning feels like a delicate lace draped over a warm summer breeze. A tasteful and tasty track.

Scorch (Feat. LUIS) released in July 2021, has a decidedly international flava, with its slick production and classy looped keyboard riff showcasing just a wee slice of Driver’s skills. The song travels along, uncluttered and sophisticated, all the way to the finish line, with LUIS's flow playfully driving it forward.

Building on gains, Wax further showcases Driver’s talent on the keys. I find myself transported to a smoky bar room with a grand piano, cognac in hand, to allow this dreamy romantic track to fully seduce my senses.

Shake The Ground’s poignant piano intro ushers in a new seriousness that alludes to something much deeper and more significant here. The strings carry the emotion of the song through to the drop, which I felt could have possibly had more impact if the drums had been louder in the mix, or perhaps even busted out a bit more and really let loose.

Finishing out the EP is the easy-breezy club track For You. With a bit of a Drax Project vibe, I thought the EP could have ended with a bit more of a punch, but all of the bigger songs were set earlier in the track list. However, that’s possibly my old-school approach to album listening showing through!

All in all, a fantastic EP that should really turn some heads. This exceptionally talented pair, and their team, have made Narrative an absolute pleasure to review. Five Stars!

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Dillastrate

Dillastrate just can’t sit still. Driven by a deep love for live performance, in two short years the New Zealand duo has completed a staggering nine national tours, tackling staple music festival stages including Northern Bass, Rhythm & Vines and Electric Avenue. A live performance by the duo ensures that no foot is left untapping, with entire venues transitioning from stationary to dancing-their-arses-off in a matter of one song.

Dillastrate describe their signature sound as neosoul pop – a product of intense refinement and humanizing machines, combining modern digital sounds with analogue soul to provide the best of both worlds. A heavy hat tip to funk legends Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson mingles with current soul, hip-hop, jazz and electronic sounds that seems to leave audiences open-mouthed and itching for more.

Members Henare 'H' Kaa (drums, lead vocals) and Tim Driver (keyboards, loops, vocals) realized the potential for Dillastrate while playing together in multiple groups, including kiwi staples AHoriBuzz and Soulsystem. With the ability to perform using all the necessary instruments with just the two of them, Dillastrate are agile and determined to play for appreciative audiences wherever and whenever possible. As working session musicians, the pair have worked with an intimidating host of national and international acts, including members of The Rolling Stones and a host of New Zealand’s top talent.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Dillastrate


Year: 2021
Type: EP

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