The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones reviews Shabazz Palaces' "Black Up," the album that had Josh making ecstatic daily forays into music writing earlier this summer. (Full article for subscribers only; synopsis here).
Calling the Seattle group---headed by onetime Digable Planets frontman Palaceer Lazaro---"a mysterious unit," Frere-Jones writes,
Shabazz Palaces doesn't make music you can dance to, though it facilitates nodding. The rhythm rarely builds to peaks or gets much faster than a lope. "Black Up" is a lesson in forceful insolence, stocked with music that rests in the low end, only to be unpredictably split apart by noise.On "Are you ... Can you ... Were you? (Felt)," Butler opens the song by repeating "It's a feeling," and that simple sentiment can help you navigate the somewhat disorganized set of symbols and sounds. ...
Shabazz Palaces uses sonic fog and unusual mixing to obscure its charms---a sly and unpredictable lead m.c. and a clutch of sonorous tones---not because the group is dissuading anyone from entering its world but because it is committed to high-resolution disorientation. All of this is keyed to pleasure. "Black Up" would once have been called a "headphones album": It is rich and striated, and was made for the closeup of the in-ear speaker.