Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty
Sub Pop Records (2014)
By Bridget Egan
The first listen of Shabazz Palaces‘ latest release Lese Majeste is overwhelming. The sounds are spacious, the wordplay tight, the beats relentless and then there’s all sorts of stuff that’s beyond description. The 7-suite, 18-track album takes you on a journey through subterranean moods, siren song and cosmic expanses into a brand new musical space-time.
Starting the album is The Phasing Shift suite, which is filled with rich, wide-open sounds that build from the otherworldy “Dawn in Luxor” to the insistent beats of “They Come in Gold.” There are seismic shifts, lyrically and sonically, from suite to suite and it works perfectly.
In suite 4, The Pleasure Milieu, “#CAKE’s” vapid concerns and throbbing beats are set-up by the sci-fi sounding “Divine Form.” A few tracks later, “Suspicion of a Shape” immerses you in a sound garden of chimes, synth and whispers. Later, in the song “MindGlitch Keytar TM Theme,” you are in a Philip K. Dick novel with an 80’s soundtrack playing in double time. Instead of exhausting, the shape-shifting album is exhilarating.
Many tracks turn your ear to sounds drifting in as if from the apartment next door. Some of these meandering delights are THEESatisfaction’s Catherine Harris-White’s siren song that draws attention to the soul of the album. In “#Cake,” she asks
Why not savor the flavor?
This sweet scolding reminds us what to do with the album. Savor it, over and over, alone in a car at night, separated from the world by headphones, looking to escape the physical world. If you listen closely, Lese Majesty will transport you through the multiple sound galaxies of Tendai Maraire and Ishmael Butler and you will not hear music the same once you return. – (9/10)