Welcome to EarthEE. Discovered by the sonic explorers known as THEESatisfaction, it exists in some distant galaxy that appears little more than a speck of dust in the night sky from our home planet. It’s one of those lush sci-fi dream worlds covered entirely in streams, waterfalls, and a canopy of greenery. The Seattle duo’s latest album fusing of hip-hop, R&B, and soul proves to be an audio oasis worthy of frequent escapist trips.
On EarthEE, Catherine "Cat" Harris-White and Stasia "Stas" Irons (with the aid of producer Erik Blood) create a musical backdrop of space age naturalism that connects on an elemental level. There’s a soft undertone of most of the beats and grooves they craft swell and flow like the heartbeats of a menagerie released back into the wild. There’s not an abrasive moment to be found on the album. It’s easy to get lost drifting on the smooth saxophone notes on “Post Black, Anyway” or the bass line of “Blandland.” While EarthEE certainly lives in the same otherworldly alternative hip-hop realm as Blood’s work with Shabazz Palaces (which makes appearances on “EarthEE” and “Recognition”), THEESatisfaction manages to ground its sound and eschews trippy distance for a much more personal sense of intimacy.
Stas and Cat’s lyrics touch on a variety of topics with unwavering vitality. Tracks like “Planet for Sale” confront the feeling of being reduced to a commodity, both as an artist and as a human, fading out to a refrain of “Waiting to be sold / Your future.” Issues of self-awareness and reflection get assessed on “Recognition” (“You believe when you blink / You think that it is insane / Your faithfulness, your dedication / But no work goes without / Recognition”). But the album isn’t stern, THEESatisfaction can just as easily chill out and muse about love with songs like “Fetch/Catch.” While it might not be familiar musical terraferma, EarthEE is immensely habitable.