Shabazz Palaces, ‘Lese Majesty’ (Sub Pop)
“Focus” is the first word uttered on Shabazz Palaces’ second full-length, “Lese Majesty,” an expectedly dense and boundary-pushing follow-up to its 2011 future-rap opus “Black Up.” It’s a fitting word for a record in which everything demands a closer listen or further consideration, from its lyrics to its track names to its title — a play on a French term for “offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign.”
The 18-track album is loosely organized into several two-to-four-song suites, in which the compositions morph and unfurl in all sorts of sonic directions. The opener, “Dawn In Luxor,” envelopes the listener as it vibrates and builds from beneath, then takes its time to drop in the most satisfying way possible. At the end, on “Sonic Mythmap For the Trip Back,” vocalist Ishmael Butler narrates the journey with often cryptic statements, reflections, instructions and life lessons.
While Butler’s words seem to be the focal point, the textures, shapes and placements of his and Tendai Maraire’s multifaceted tones (synths, samples, etc.) offer more than enough to appreciate, especially if played loud on good speakers or in headphones. Catherine Harris-White of THEESatisfaction also lends some notable vocal assistance to several tracks.
Other new releases
Eric Clapton & Friends, “The Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale” (Bushbranch/Surfdog)
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Hypnotic Eye” (Warner Bros)
Harvey Danger, “Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone” vinyl reissue (No Sleep)
Note: Shabazz Palaces performs Friday, Aug. 1, at Neumos.