Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shabazz Palaces

Anyone paying attention to Seattle hiphop in 2009 was intrigued by Shabazz Palaces, a local duo who came out of nowhere and rapidly released two strange and brilliant EP's: "Shabazz Palaces" and "Of Light." The band's identities were kept private, but it was clear from the first listen that the voice and mind behind the mic was Ishmael Butler, aka. Butterfly, the Grammy-winning MC and producer behind Digable Planets' two classic late 1980's albums Reachin' and Blowout Comb. The two new recordings - which play like 2 sides of the same album - are rich and hypnotic. Live keyboards and spare jazz beats conjure a smoky landscape, full of darkness and paranoia. Surprising African rythms and softly sampled horns appear like voices of wisdom; and every so often a sparkly chorus introduces a note of genuine optimism. Like the best recordings of Butler's catalog, this is music that demands repeat listening.

The video above, shot in Los Angeles by Kahlil Joseph, gives a sample of the project's flavor. You can hear a hot live recording on KEXP's site, and local hiphop journalist Larry Mizell Jr. just posted a terrific article about the band in The Stranger. Shabazz Palaces' first-ever public concert is this Friday, Jan. 8 at Neumos and it will doubtless be a major event. Tickets, which are going fast, are still available here.

No comments: