Voyager is known as the first human-made object to exit the solar system and go into interstellar space. Aboard the vessel of course is the Golden Record, an album that seeks to share the human experience through sound and song with any distant civilisation that finds it.
SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) scans for a reply, but with the music of Shabazz Palaces we already have the other side of the dialogue: universal truths and outergalactic beats broadcast back into our consciousness.
Last we heard from the band was in 2017 via Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines (our reviews of which you can read here). The two albums offered a view of the present through the lens of a science fictive future; chronicles of a sentient entity (Quazarz) sent from “elsewhere“to document the land of ‘Amurderca’. The Don of Diamond Dreams offers a more intimate and personal portrait of humanity, though no less imaginative. Grounding the album in some ways is the dialogue between father and son, wisdom and youth. It mirrors the real life relationship between Ishmael Butler and his son, Jazz AKA Lil Tracy, who features on the album: “I ride through light,” Butler claims. “Do you?” a voice replies, quiet with admiration and gentle disbelief.
The imagery is vivid as ever. This is a world of “divine mathematics” and “designer fabrics”, as Butler raps on Ad Ventures. “Diamond showers every time I take a breath/ If style was cash you‘d be in debt,” he claims on Wet, and the gems just keep flowing.
But it‘s also an album of tenderness and reflection, with tracks like Thanking the Girls paying tribute to the women in Butler‘s life. Shabazz Palaces are flying at the peak of their powers, and their funkadelic melodies, time-suspending soul and based beats elevate us all.
The Don Of Diamond Dreams is out now via Sub Pop/Inertia.
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