“Herein bumps and soars Lese Majesty, the new sonic action of Shabazz Palaces.” So states the write-up concerning SP’s newest album offering (officially out today) on their record label’s website (that would be Sub Pop). If you are attuned to the dispatches of the cerebral music internet, you’ve probably already read or heard the accolades. It’s all deserved. Lese Majesty is as much a follow-up to Black Up as outer space is to the stratosphere. While Black Up hovered somewhere in the ethereality between the corporeal and the heavens, Lese Majesty takes it a step further, echoing cosmic noise from the spacetime.
Brian Greene taught us that time might just be an illusion, wholly dependent on where we’re positioned in the universe and at what speed we happen to be traveling. Our extraterrestrial counterparts, zooming through the galaxy at just the right trajectory and speed, could theoretically view the entirety of human history through a powerful enough looking glass. At times, Lese Majesty sounds like the aural document from such an excursion.
Tracks like “Forerunner Foray” and “Motion Sickness” move with greater authority than most of Black Up, which makes Lese Majesty a more exciting record, at least empirically. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to get lost in, however. “Ishmael” is one of my favorite Shabazz tracks to date: a floating, sweeping merger of soul, rock and hip-hop that reflects the intricacies of its eponymous creator.
I’m just beginning a third spin through Lese Majesty, and so far it promises more complexity and returns than anything I’ve heard in recent months. And I haven’t even begun to dig through the lyrics. “Bumps and soars,” indeed.