Mystique must be top of every new band’s playbook by now. But there’s cultivating hype and then there’s being a tad standoffish. You could probably accuse Shabazz Palaces of latter, which till recently was only known as the project of one Palaceer Lazaro. What Lazaro hasn’t been eager to reveal is his previous work as Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, one third of the boho-rap trio Digable Planets, a Grammy-winning hip-hop act. Since signing to Sub Pop late last year, the first hip hop act to do so in the label’s history, Shabazz Palaces have been quietly releasing records without giving much away, much less an interview or a Myspace page. All this elusive behaviour is strangely fitting for the band, whose experimental approach to hip hop is difficult to describe. Track titles such as “32 Leaves Dipped In Blackness Making Clouds Forming Altered Carbon” are an indication of the weirdness inside. At times Shabazz Palaces shares the cosmic jazz oddity of Flying Lotus, or the malignant rattle of El-P. Sometimes beats have an almost recognisable Eastern influence, but more often instrumentals take the form of unsettling synth backed by heavy bass. Lazaro, in his own words, “raps order into this madness” with his air-tight rhymes and often enigmatic lyrics. Unusual, eerie and highly promising.
Future Sounds: Shabazz Palaces