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Archive for the ‘Shabazz Palaces’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 13, 2018] Yuno

I had heard of Yuno, but hadn’t realized it.  All Songs Considered played his song “No Going Back” back in February.  I liked it but had forgotten about it come September.

When I saw the poster for the Superorganism show and saw that Yuno was opening I assumed it was a dance band (possibly Japanese, probably female).  But I didn’t investigate.

So I was surprised when Yuno came out and he was an African-American dude from Florida.  As soon as he said his name (like “you know”) I remembered joking about the pronunciation of his name on the podcast and it all came flooding back.

Yuno is a 27-year-old from Jacksonville.  He recorded a lot of his work in his bedroom and posted it on Soundcloud.  In what sounds like a made up story Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces started tracking him on Souncloud and eventually reached out to him to record an EP with SubPop.  (Yuno didn’t tell us this, I looked it up). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SHABAZZ PALACES-Tiny Desk Concert #662 (October 23, 2017).

Shabazz Palaces is really nothing like anything else I’ve heard.

“On the ground we have leopard skin carpets Only the exalted come in and rock with us.”

With those words, spoken in the opening moments of Shabazz Palaces‘ Tiny Desk performance, Palaceer Lazaro (aka Ishmael Butler, also of Digable Planets fame) lays the ground rules for all present to enter the group’s metaphysical headspace.

And, man, talk about being transported to the other side. It’s impossible not to envision the Seattle studio, Black Space Labs, where Shabazz’s otherworldly soundscapes emerge to provide the ideal backdrop for shining a light on the fake.

 It’s the perfect proxy for the growing sense of alienation we’re all suffering, to some degree or another, in today’s space and time.

Shabazz Palaces is perhaps the most unusual rap band I’ve heard. There are hardly any beats. The songs are trippy with washes of synths and other sound effects.  There’s no heavy bass, it’s just up to Palaceer Lazaro to keep the flow.

There’s an 80 second intro in which Palaceer Lazaro introduces the band and talks about their sacred study, safe from the “Colluding Oligarchs.”

The first proper song “Colluding Oligarchs”says that “sacred spaces still exist / safe from colluding oligarchs.”  Theirs almost glitchy (but pretty) synth melodies (which I think Palaceer Lazaro triggered before he started rapping).  His partner Tendai Maraire plays a hand drum and congas (as well as some synth triggers).  And all the while he is singing echoed backing vocals.  Meanwhile, Otis Calvin plays an intertwining, slow, almost improved bass line.

For “They Come In Gold” there is no bass.  He says “this one we wrote to our phones.”  There’s a weird repeating melody that sounds like  snippet of vocals. Once again there’s lot of percussion–shakers, cymbals etc.  Half way through, he puts a filter on his voice to slow it down (a cool spacey effect) and then speeds it back up.

“Shine A Light” includes some squeaky synths and Palaceer Lazaro singing into a different mic.  When the music starts formally, the melody is a looped sample from Dee Dee Sharp’s 1965 song “I Really Love You.”  The bass is back playing some simple but groovy lines.  That second mic is connected to a higher-pitched echoed setting when he sings shine a light on the fake.

[READ: March 15, 2017] Punch

I don’t know much about Pablo Boffelli aside from that he is an Argentinian artist–he creates music as well as visual arts.

This book is a collection of line drawings (which remind me a lot of things that I draw when I am doodling).

Since the book is published in Spanish, with no English information anywhere (it’s not even on Goodreads), I couldn’t get a lot of information about it.  So from the publisher’s website I got (in translation):

In the PUNCH world, space is a character that unfolds and unfolds in millions of scenes. Cynicism and the absurd coexist with hints of synthetic humor.

Punch is the book drawn by Feli. His imprudent stroke runs through the pages building a city in which everything can happen. In the Punch world, space becomes a character that unfolds and unfolds in millions of possibilities. The urban landscape eats everything, the exteriors become interior and the fantasies materialize in the most unforeseen forms. The cynicism and the absurd coexist with hints of humor: the joke to discover for that spectator who contemplates in a disinterested way.

Punch is tender and corrosive, is infinite and minimal. It reverses the logic of physics and plays with the scale: stacked things, types or giant landscapes, a springboard that does not point to the pool, soccer balls in a refrigerator, humans without head, debauchery and micro-obsession. Put another way: this book is crazy. We recommend looking with a magnifying glass.

(more…)

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[LISTENED TO: March 2017] The Organist

organistAfter really enjoying The Organist in 2015, the season ended and I hadn’t heard that there were going to be anymore.  So I stopped looking for them.  And then the other day I got an email reminding me about recent episodes.  Well, sure enough there had been an entire season last year and they were already part way through this year’s season.

So I’m playing some catch up here.  But they are timeless, so it’s okay.

Each cast has a section in brackets–this text comes from the Organist’s own site.  The rest is my own commentary.

The Organist is a free podcast from KCRW & McSweeney’s.  As of this writing, they are up to episode 82. (more…)

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39SOUNDTRACK: SHABAZZ PALACES-“#Cake” (2014).

cakeI don’t know much about Shabazz Palaces, although I understand their debut was pretty popular in alternative circles (they were the first rap band released on Sub Pop).  This new song is from their new (also Sub Pop) album and I think it’s really weird and quite wonderful.

There’s a loping bass line echoey and almost spacey.  There’s rapped echoey fast words all over the palce (I’m having my cake and I’m eating cake–“eating cake” seems to be the refrain).  It’s all very spacey and weird.  And then at around 1:45 a whole new sound emerges out of static, as if a jazz radio station was tuned in and someone like Nina Simone begins singing a very standard-sounding jazz song.  What?  And after about 15 seconds it drifts out and the song returns to normal.

Around 2:48 a new style of song drifts in, also kind of early jazz (but a different song with lyrics, “let it waver why not savor the flavor”), but this time a bit more faint with twinkly sounds played over the top.

When the song return, there is a list of cities rapped over a more string heavy riff (but that same bassline).  It’s pretty darn weird.  It all reminds me of the way Kanye West introduced such weird elemnst on his Yeezus album.  This is less aggressive but no less unexpected.

I really have no idea what this song is actually about, but I really enjoy listening to it, and I want to explore Shabazz Palaces a bit more.

[READ: July 26, 2014] Nowhere to Run

There’s something about the first book in 39 Clues series that is just so good.  Although I did enjoy the end of Cahills vs Vespers, the end was nowhere near as exciting as the beginning of this book.

It is six months after the events of the last series.  Dan and Amy are not in any way over the deaths of their friends and family.  But they feel that the end of the Vespers leadership must give them some peace and quiet.  And things are starting to get back to normal.  (The awesome) Nellie is back with them, cooking and being generally cool.  But there is one last detail that they must attend to: the funeral of their lawyer, Mac.  He too was killed six months earlier, but they have just gotten around to dealing with the funeral (he was cremated).

But at the funeral, they are attacked by some really tough, like really tough guys.  Uncannily tough in fact.  And as they flee the cemetery a group of paparazzi comes into the cemetary looking to take pictures of the Cahill kids. And soon enough, their photos are posted all over the internet with crazy untruths said about them–that they are spoiled rich kids looking for thrills.  What the heck is going on?

Well, it turns out that J. Rutherford Pierce has found a bit of the serum that Dan was creating.  And unlike the dose that Isabel took, he seems to have tinkered with it just enough to make him superhuman but not freakish.  Pierce has been mostly an also ran–a failure at many businesses, and a failure at much more.  But since taking the serum, he has had many successes, including taking over a media empire (hence the headlines) and making ton of money.  And he has it in for the Cahills. (more…)

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