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January 09, 2007

Macromantics: Moments in Movement
Kill Rock Stars, 2007
Rating: 3.4
It's hard to take newcomer threats by Romy Hoffman (performing as Macromantics) seriously. On her debut album Moments in Movement, Hoffman self-promotes through promises of violence as much as any MC, but she begins her shout-outs with "Extra special thanks with a cherry on top." On "Locksmith," the token autobiographical track, she follows Sage Francis' description of his father's criminal past and fear of his missing parent's return with a monologue that touches for half a line on anorexia but otherwise characterizes her as an introvert who came out of her shell through rap. Even the cryptically grim images of cuts like "Dark Side of Dallas" just come across as the products of an active imagination. It's this innocence and imagination (plus her being Australian) that put Hoffman outside of the mainstream American rap pantheon, a characteristic that is at once refreshing and vexing. She doesn't boast about her success with men or her sexual prowess, drops few references to booty-shaking, and besides the brief snippet of bio and a few scattered mentions, stays away from hard-bitten tales of daily life. Instead, she favors stream-of-consciousness verbiage, half-descriptions of a multitude of small scenes interwoven with proclamations of her skills, and repeat choruses. All of that, plus crisp production, a natural wit ("She's so Bon she's Jovial"), and consciousness of her status as an "absurdist wordsmith," means that Moments in Movements is a solid debut by a charming ingénue. Unfortunately, charm can only take you so far; Macro's acknowledgment that her rhymes are absurd doesn't automatically increase their significance. Rather, the lack of defining purpose makes Macro seem less a sophisticate than a narcissist, and repeated reminders that "macronormous, that's the chorus" and other A-B refrains are unfortunate reminders that she isn't even the most original of absurdists.

::: Peter Landwehr

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