‘This Was Tomorrow’ is the debut album from Melbourne’s SETH SENTRY and High Score Records being the culmination of Sentry’s work from 2009. Sentry’s songs are mostly built around tried and true structures of a rapping verse and simple “sing along” chorus’ created from a repeating chord or riff progression. Sentry also seems to be more like a student of many styles of music who writes thinking like a pure vocalist. As do most hip hop artists, Sentry inputs his personal life stories and everyday struggles together with an often ironic view on recent society norms across the tracks. The most pleasing aspect about this record is to hear both current, and old school hip-hop production trends and techniques blended with the use of acoustic ‘real’ instruments. Like combining old school record player gangsta track static, with clean electric guitar, piano and big acoustic drum kits. Initially it still takes a song or two to get used to the Aussie accent in a hip-hop context – a legacy of a US dominated song space.
The opening tracks ‘Camp Fire’ and ‘My Scene’ are a prime example of Sentry’s willingness to use traditional song formats and arrangement with real instruments under his rap messages. ‘Camp Fire’ – a more serious comment on modern societies deliberately designed rat-on-a-treadmill futile obsession with monetary gain. Bordering on a “rock” song with its clean guitar opening and then over-driven guitar parts switching to a Tom Morello-ish electro record scratching section, provide an interesting element in ‘Camp Fire’ – and quite easily a good pick for the stand out track on the album. You just can’t help but crank the P-Bass and drum break down section about half way through the song! ‘My Scene’ is more of a laid back and personal reflection of not fitting into the ‘Camp Fire’ picture. You can almost hear (deliberately?) the ghost of the Hoodoo Guru’s classic ‘What’s My Scene” embedded in this song. Only Sentry adds more depth in his song’s message.
Sentry’s love of things geeky chic strikes you with his tongue and cheek dig at science and technology in ‘Dear Science’. Sentry is into Nerf guns, Star Wars and Back to the Future (aren’t we all). Science has given us Botox and light bulbs, but someone please invent the hover board for Seth, stat! ‘Room for Rent’ has a Stevie Wonder inspired feel which motors along with computer game like electric piano tones, deep bass and big sweeping string synths.
‘Langoliers Banquet’ and ‘Ten Paces’ are more mellow introspective tracks. There’s a cute sounding female vocal in ‘Ten Paces’ which doubles Sentry’s vocals and solos sweetly to the end of the track. Throughout Sentry also employs other rappers and vocalists into songs to add melody and thicken chorus sections. ‘Float Away’ completes the more controlled, inspirational and less aggravated group of tracks in the middle of the album.
This quieter gentle side to Sentry is quickly bumped to the kerb with tracks ‘Thanks For Your Hospitality’, ‘Where Was You (When The Dead Come Walkin’ and ‘Vacation’ which round out the album. A lot more raw and cutting, these songs showcase Sentry’s bar raising rapping and writing abilities.
Sentry’s work adds additional weight to those producing quality more musically minded hip-hop which says good riddance to days of just rapping aimlessly over your Casiotone #3 Drum setting loop. You’ll find yourself quickly half remembering key witty lyric sections (to also share with your friends) only to catch up enthusiastically in the more melodic choruses. All while you max out the factory front speakers in your Camry company car. Windows down!