Our Henry Whittier-Ferguson reviews the two new sibling albums from Shabazz Palaces, taking them into the furthest orbits of hip-hop.
Device Grips’ Forth World does well to connect electronics with acoustics. The live drums and heavy, funky bass set a chill mood. The guitar style pulls playful notes, or carries an echoing ska or reggae upswing, which means completely laid back grooves around Tyler Jon’s tumbling lyrics (either in lyrical hip-hop mode, or scruffy ballad voice). Songs follow themes of endurance, self-awareness, and escaping “Traffic” citing driving freely into The Columbia River Gorge, which seems to be a metaphor for conquering personal constructs. The entire album touches on the fight between systems in place and demanding schedules versus syncing with the natural and celestial worlds.
Keefe Rayfield adds squally electronic noises, and also performs dramatic trumpet interludes. This really prods into dimensions of blues and classic soundtracks. But there is really no genre or dual-genre to pin on their sound. The band builds songs together, drawing from every angle of music. Consider the Middle Eastern feel over heavy beats and rap on “Last Days.” “Odin Punch” marches into pushing one’s boundaries, finishing with latin vibes and brass, while “The Ratch” and “Andromeda” offer sci-fi and funk over social issues and conspiracy theories. The sound is mellow, but Device Grips has a lot to express, verbally and instrumentally. »
– Brandy Crowe