Tag: Spiritualized

New Video: Rising London-based Act Tempesst Releases a Brit Pop Take on Psych Rock

Growing up in a musical family, Noosa, Australia-born, London-based twin siblings Toma and Andy Benjamin joined the church band when they were 14. Coincidentally, the church band was where the Banjamins met their future Tempesst bandmates Kane Reynolds and Blake Mispeka. 

The Banjamin Brothers eventually left home and discovered a whole new world of music, ideas and ways of living that weren’t part of their previous purview: after a short stint in the UK, the Banjamins wound up in Williamsburg, where they soaked up the DIY ethos of the  late 2000s Williamsburg scene, while developing their own ideas and starting home recording projects inspired by Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Wings, Electric Light Orchestra and others. 

After a year in Brooklyn, an expiring visa forced the Banjamins to relocate to Hackney, where they hunkered down and got serious about writing and recording material. They recruited Swiss-American Eric Weber (guitar) and reconnected with their fellow Aussies Reynolds and Mispeka. And at that point, the rising London-based indie act Tempesst started. 

Unsurprisingly, the need to practice, write and record in a city like London helped facilitate the creation of their own studio. “We started out with a basic production studio that Tom kept at his house but one of the biggest challenges in London is that you can’t make noise,” the band’s Andy Banjamin recalls. “So we began looking for a rehearsal space and came across this warehouse, which was way bigger than anything we were looking for but got us wondering about what it would actually take to set up a proper studio.” 

Naming the space Pony Studios, the band started to convert the warehouse into multiple studio rooms and practice spaces. Simultaneously, the band started Pony Recordings, which helped changed the way the band had approached their work.  “These days artists are expected to do so much themselves and we have always been slight control freaks anyway,” Andy Banjamin says in press notes. “DIY is part of everything that we do, so that extends to our label, the studio, the videos, all of it and really it’s just how the indie music scene has evolved.” Toma Banjamin adds ““With the studio, we have time to work on all the key things that have become quintessential to our sound but also experiment and add an element of surprise, whether that is a weird synth solo or a key change. It’s those little departures that keep the listener on their toes.”

After releasing a handful of critically applauded, buzz worthy singles and EPs, the Aussie-born, British-based members of Tempesst will be releasing their highly anticipated full-length debut, the Eliot Heinrich co-produced Must Be a Dream. Slated for a September 30, 2020 release through the band’s own Pony Recordings, Tempesst’s full-length debut reportedly finds the band boldly taking a step forward with their songwriting and their sound. Generally leaning towards folk-tinged psychedelia, the album’s material nods at Spiritualized, The Flaming Lips, and The Beach Boys — but with a modern melodic sensibility. 

Sonically, the material is deceptive: complex musical ideas are centered around seemingly simple melodies.  Seemingly sun-kissed, the album thematically explores themes of longing, love, loss, substance abuse, the death of loved ones — and yet remembering the beauty just underneath all of it. “This record is the first time that I feel like I’ve had the uninterrupted ability to create and have full control at our own pace,” Toma Banjamin says in press notes. “With this LP, we’ve created something we’re really proud of that truly cements our identity as a group. The joy of taking these songs live is something that we’re really excited about.”

Must Be A Dream’s first single “On The Run” is a decidedly Brit Pop-take on 60s and 70s psych rock centered around shimmering and reverb drenched guitars, layered vocal harmonies, an enormous hook and Toma Benjamin’s serpentine-like vocals. And while superficially being a sun-kissed, summery anthem, the song is actually much darker, as the song thematically focuses on substance abuse, death and the loss of innocence — that feels haunted by the weight of heartache. “it’s about a close friend who disappeared for a decade and returned as someone completely different, and it’s an ongoing trauma,” Toma Banjamin explains. “When I connected the music to the lyrics to try and finish the song, it felt like it had a rolling rhythm, so the chorus fell into place from there. For me, this song carries a lot more emotional weight.”

Directed by Andrea Banjanin, the recently released video is centered around cinematically shot footage of the band performing the song in a studio space with symbolic imagery placed in quick cuts — and that imagery focuses on the songs overall themes of mortality, loss of innocence and the complications of adult life. 

Closing Eyes · You Can Have Everything

Oslo’s Closing Eyes — Eirik Asker Pettersen, Magnus Asker Pettersen, Emilie Lium Vordal, Anders Emil Rønning and Jørgen Bjella — are a rising indie act, who has developed a sound and approach that’s inspired by an eclectic array of influences including Yo La Tengo, Stereolab, Spiritualized, The Velvet Underground, The Electric Prunes, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil, The Magnetic Fields, and The Soft Bulletin-era The Flaming Lips. 

With the release of 2014’s debut EP Melodies for the Contemporary Mind, which led to them opening for Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier — and their full-length debut, 2018’s Soft Years, the act started to receive quite a bit of attention from the Norwegian press. Adding to a growing profile, the act played several showcases in their native Norway and they opened for The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They ended a big 2018 with the the 12-inch effort Reworked, which featured remixes from Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas, Young Dreams and Serena Maneesh.

The members of the rising Norwegian indie act spent last year writing and recording their recently released Emil Nikolaisen-produced sophomore album Eternal Fidelity.  The album highlights a band that has grown more confident while crafting material that’s nostalgic yet modern, centered around big chords and sentimental melodies.  “Sometimes I try very hard to hold on to something but it just feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. Ideals, dreams, identities or friendships are all things that live so strongly and easily when we’re young but often seem to lose footing as we grow older,” the band’s Eirik Asker Pettersen says of the album’s overall vibe and themes. “Convictions that seem so solid can suddenly dissolve and become unresolved issues. I don’t think we’re too good at dealing with that. Mostly, Eternal Fidelity is about those feelings. It’s about trying to hold on, let go and make sense of it all. It’s about clinging to what’s important even though it might not be easy all the time.”  

Eternal Fidelity‘s latest single is the woozy “You Can Have Everything.” Centered around shimming and arpeggiated blocks of keys, boom bap-like drums, fuzzy power chords and an rousingly anthemic hook, the song manages to a woozy and achingly nostalgic song that evokes the rapid passing of time, as well as the constantly changing priorities and responsibilities of adult life. Life changes you after all; it does that very well.

 

 

Howie Payne is aLiverpool-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. And although his music career started in earnest in the early 1990s when he played in a number of local bands including The Magic Clock, The Windmills, Telephone, Blueseed (who, released their debut single “The Only Ones” in 1997 and their debut EP, 1998’s Special Care and Spare Change through Ultimate Records) and The Big Kids, Payne is best known for his solo project-cum-full-fledged band The Stands, an act that was both critically applauded and championed by the likes of The Stone Roses, Spiritualized, Jack White, Noel Gallagher and Bill Ryder-Jones.

The band supported their two albums together, 2004’s All Years Leaving and 2005’s Horse Fabulous, with tours opening for Paul Weller, The Libertines, The Coral and Oasis before Payne ended the project in late 2005. Since then Payne has developed a reputation as a critically applauded solo artist releasing two albums 2009’s Bright Light Ballads and 2017’s Mountain. Payne is gearing up to release his highly-anticipated third, full-length later this year. But in the meantime, his latest single, the self-produced and self-engineered “Into Daylight” is the first bit of new material from the acclaimed Liverpool-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer since Mountain. Clocking in at a little over 2 minutes, the track is a breakneck, Brit Pop take on psych rock that’s a decided change in direction from Payne’s previously released solo work, as the track is centered around fuzzy and darting power chords, a motorik-like groove, a bluesy and expressive guitar solo and an enormous hook before a sudden fade out.

“The first person I played it [the song] to said, ‘It sounds like if Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and early Pink Floyd were in the same band’ . . . I’m having that thank you very much,” Payne says of the song inn which he plays all the instrumental parts. “It’s the first full on electric rock and roll tune I’ve put out since I was doing The Stands, definitely the most psychedelic and the first guitar solo I’ve cut in a while. I’ve been listening to a lot of rock and roll and rediscovered my love of playing the electric guitar and of volume and it sent me off in a new, heavier direction. ‘Into Daylight’ is a pure rock and roll song. It’s loud, fast and exciting to play live. I can see us  absolutely jamming the shit out of it at the shows down the line.”

 

 



New Video: Knife Knights’ Release a Hallucinogenic Visual for “Drag Race Legend”

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Seattle-based emcee, synth player, guitarist and producer Ishmael Butler.  Butler is known as the co-founder of two critically applauded, groundbreaking, JOVM mainstay acts — Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. About a decade ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years of near-complete creative silence. During the summer of 2009, Butler’s Shabazz Palaces quietly self-released a pair of EPs that quickly established the act’s unique sound and aesthetic: Butler’s hyper-literate verses full of complex inner and out rhyme schemes paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms.

When Butler started Shabazz Palaces, he desperately wanted the act to stand on its own strength and not on his long-held reputation. So confidentially was essential; in fact, he adopted a pseudonym for himself. As Shabazz Palaces’ profile and network rapidly expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his various creative pursuits and collaborations that would be allow them to stand on their own. Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who has also been a vital and important collaborator in the Shabazz Palaces Universe. Blood and Butler can trace their collaboration and friendship back to when they were introduced to each other at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive Digable Planets fan, and as an obsessive fan, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have Butler sign — and Butler dutifully did so.

Over the course of the next few years, Blood and Butler would have chance encounters and sometimes during those encounters, they’d talk about possibly working together. Several years had passed but when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. Blood, who’s a huge hip-hop fan has always been an obsessive music listener and fan with wildly eclectic tastes. Butler, on the  other hand, who’s a lifelong hip-hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes.

Several years later, when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. That shouldn’t be surprising — Blood, as a huge hip-hop fan, has a always been an obsessive music listener and fan with eclectic tastes while Butler, a lifelong hip hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes. Interestingly, every Shabazz Palaces album has featured a Blood and Butler collaboration, a collaboration that finds the duo specifically focused on and delighting at the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronica and hip hop, actively and restlessly pushing hip hop towards new psychedelic textures. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

Butler and Blood’s Knife Knights debut, last year’s 1 Time Mirage came as a result of about a decade of collaboration and the development of a very rich and dear friendship.  1 Time Mirage‘s material was recorded over the course of three different recording sessions, interrupted by Butler’s touring schedules with Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets and Blood’s recording projects. The album finds the duo and a cast of collaborators crafting a lysergic soundscape that meshes elements of soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, noise and chaos. 

1 Time Mirage’s latest single is the lysergic and woozy “Drag Rage Legend.” Centered around a wobbling bass line, stuttering beats, bursts of distorted, wailing guitars and Butler’s imitable flow, the much like its immediate predecessor continues with a narcotic yet noisy vibe. (Admittedly, I wonder how the song would sound under the influence of hallucinogens.)

Directed by Joshua M. Johnson, the recently released video for “Drag Race Legend” is a psychedelic tale of wasted youth that follows a sunglasses wearing young man with a penchant for street drag racing, skipping school and getting as high as humanly possible. He proclaims himself a legend, drinks spodie (also known as jungle juice and spodie odie, depending on where in the country you’re from) and parties too much. The video is looks as though it were filmed on rainy and distorted VHS tapes, with wavering explosions of color and fuzz, as the video’s protagonist goes through his daily routine. 

New Video: Knife Knights Release a Feverish and Hallucinogenic Visual for “Seven Wheel Motion”

Throughout the bulk of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit virtual ink covering Seattle-based emcee, synth player, guitarist and producer Ishmael Butler.  Butler is known as the co-founder of two critically applauded, groundbreaking, JOVM mainstay acts — Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. About a decade ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years of near-complete creative silence. During the summer of 2009, Butler’s Shabazz Palaces quietly self-released a pair of EPs that quickly established the act’s unique sound and aesthetic: Butler’s hyper-literate verses full of complex inner and out rhyme schemes paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms.

When Butler started Shabazz Palaces, he desperately wanted the act to stand on its own strength and not on his long-held reputation. So confidentially was essential; in fact, he adopted a pseudonym for himself. As Shabazz Palaces’ profile and network rapidly expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his various creative pursuits and collaborations that would be allow them to stand on their own. Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who has also been a vital and important collaborator in the Shabazz Palaces Universe. Blood and Butler can trace their collaboration and friendship back to when they were introduced to each other at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive Digable Planets fan, and as an obsessive fan, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have Butler sign — and Butler dutifully did so. 

Over the course of the next few years, Blood and Butler would have chance encounters and sometimes during those encounters, they’d talk about possibly working together. Several years had passed but when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. Blood, who’s a huge hip-hop fan has always been an obsessive music listener and fan with wildly eclectic tastes. Butler, on the  other hand, who’s a lifelong hip-hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes. 

Interestingly, every Shabazz Palaces album to date has featured a Butler and Blood collaboration — and their work together finds them focusing on the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronica and hip-hop, actively and restlessly pushing their take on hip-hop into new, psychedelic-tinged textures. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

Several years later, when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. That shouldn’t be surprising — Blood, as a huge hip-hop fan, has a always been an obsessive music listener and fan with eclectic tastes while Butler, a lifelong hip hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes. Interestingly, every Shabazz Palaces album has featured a Blood and Butler collaboration, a collaboration that finds the duo specifically focused on and delighting at the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronica and hip hop, actively and restlessly pushing hip hop towards new psychedelic textures. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

Butler and Blood’s Knife Knights debut, last year’s 1 Time Mirage came as a result of about a decade of collaboration and the development of a very rich and dear friendship.  1 Time Mirage’s material was recorded over the course of three different recording sessions, interrupted by Butler’s touring schedules with Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets and Blood’s recording projects. And the album finds finds the duo and a cast of collaborators crafting a unique, lysergic soundscape that meshes elements of soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, noise and chaos. 

1 Time Mirage’s  latest single, the oceanic “Seven Wheel Motion,” is centered around enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking drums ricocheting off towering walls of carefully sculpted, hypnotic noise — primarily bent and distorted synths and guitars, which gives the song a narcotic vibe. Butler’s imitable flow, spitting dense and dexterous rhyme schemes that at one point finds him detailing a threatening streetscape, which is eventually shaped into profound, personal realizations. 

Directed by Marcy Stone-Francois, the recently released video is a feverish and hallucinogenic dream set in an alien world with scene art by Olde Nightrifter and cinematography from Futsum Tsegai. In the video, a queen played by Rhonda Faison, who also starred in the video for Shabazz Palaces’ “Desse Du Song,” sends one of her royal subjects (Ishmael Butler) on a quest for a magical jewel. Along the way, Butler’s royal subject encounters a mystical being played by OCnotes, who helps Butler with his quest to return the jewel to the queen. 

Initially began as the solo recording project of Seattle-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natasha El-Sergany that focused on spectral balladry and late-night exploration, the Seattle-based shoegazer project Somesurprises has gradually expanded into a full-fledged band featuring Josh Medina (guitar, synth), Laura Seniow (bass) and Nico Sophiea (drums) since the release of the project’s 2016 debut effort Voice Memos

2017 found El-Sergany collaborating with Josh Medina for the ambient album Serious Dreams, an effort that was released to critical applause from the likes of The Quietus, Bandcamp, The StrangerSeattle Weekly and Tiny Mixtapes. The following year, the project expanded to a full band with the addition of MX-80 Sound’s Nico Sophiea aend Red Ribbon‘s Emma Danner (bass) for that year’s Alt, an effort that Aquarium Drunkard compared to “an imaginary collaboration between Grouper and Spiritualized.” Interestingly, the band started off this year with a collaborative split tape with fellow Seattle-based act Supercandy, some candy that featured contributions from Brenan Chambers, Lori Goldston, Monika Khott and Ambrosia Bardos, who added layers of guitar effects, cello, vocals and trumpet.

The band has built up a strong profile in their hometown, opening for the likes of Circuit Des Yeux, Carla dal Forno, A Place to Bury Strangers and The Cave Singers — and they’ve toured the West Coast. Building upon a growing profile, the band will be releasing their self-titled full-length debut through Drawing Room Records. Slated for a September 20, 2019 release, the Seattle-based sheogazers self-title full-length finds the band exploring a wide range of styles from intensifying meditative drones to songs, where the same moment never quite happens twice. And unlike their previously released material, the vocals and lyrics are much more focused — with the material thematically longing for and seeking knowledge of the self, to guide the way out of one’s own mind.
Clocking in a little over five minutes, “High Rise,” the latest single off the Seattle-based shoegazers forthcoming full-length, self-titled  album is an expansive and shapeshifting song that begins with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering intro that slowly builds up into an explosive power chord and motorik groove driven middle section. The song then closes out with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering coda to close off a mind-bending and expansive song that sounds like the perfect accompaniment to experimenting with hallucinogens.

 

 

New Video: Dublin’s Submotile Releases a Lysergic “120 Minutes”-like Visual for “Eastern Sky Sundown”

Comprised of Irish-born, Dublin-based Michael Farren (guitar) and Italian-born, Dublin-based Daniela Angione (vocals), the Dublin-based indie act Submotile initially began as an experimental, ambient project. The project’s sound evolved considerably when Angione began to add vocals to Farren’s guitar experiments, which eventually resulted in their first proper collaborative track “Signs of My Melody.”

The duo’s debut EP We’re Losing The Light was released to significant interest in shoegazer circles. Farren and Angione were encouraged to pursue their long-held dream — writing and recording a proper full-length album. Released digitally a few weeks ago, the duo’s full-length debut Ghosts Fade on Skylines finds the duo blurring the lines between shoegaze, noise rock, ambient, post-rock and pop — all while drawing from Slowdive, Warpaint, Smashing Pumpkins, Swans, Spiritualized, Nirvana and others. “We wanted an album that ebbed and flowed, with nine diverse songs that complimented each other without being too different from each other. The idea behind the music is to express the dualism of warmth over hostility, passion over frustration, all these dynamics projected onto a sense of hope and renaissance. I’m not sure if we succeeded, but hopefully it works,” Daniela Angione says in press notes.

“Having quit music in 2009 due to the frustration of never having been able to translate the sounds in my head to tape, Ghosts Fade on Skylines was recorded during a wonderful period of rebirth and rejuvenation, a period where I was discovering all the great new music that was out there, whilst simultaneously finding out just how far music production technology had evolved,” Michael Farren explains in press notes. “This evolution allowed us to come that bit closer to the sound in our heads, enabling us to labor over songs, adding hundreds of tracks and experimenting with samples, guitar pedals and tones – many a happy hour was whiled away tracking this music. If someone out there enjoys listening to it a fraction as much as we enjoyed making it, then to me it’ll be a success.”

Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the immersive and enveloping “Eastern Sky Sundown” is centered by layers upon layers of buzzing and reverb-drenched guitars, four-on-four-like drumming, a rousingly anthemic hook and Angione’s ethereal vocals floating over the lysergic and oceanic mix — and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to The Jesus and Mary Chain and Smashing Pumpkins, the track bristles with the newfound self-assured of a band that found their sound. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video for “Eastern Sky Sundown” features appropriately psychedelic imagery while recalling 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock.

Look for a limited edition run of Ghosts Fade on Skyline through Midsummer Madness Records this summer.

New Video: Knife Knights Release a Lyrical and Bittersweet Meditation on Love Longing Loss and the Afterlife

Over the almost nine year’s of this site’s history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink on Seattle, WA-based emcee, synth player and producer Ishmael Butler, who’s best known as a co-founding of two, critically applauded, groundbreaking hip-hop acts — JOVM mainstays Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. Just about a decade ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years of near-complete creative silence, and in the summer of 2009, Shabazz Palaces quietly self-released a pair of EPs that quickly established the act’s unique sound and aesthetic: Butler’s hyper-literate verses full of complex inner and out rhyme scheme paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms. Initially, confidentiality was essential as Butler desperately wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength and not on his long-held reputation, so he adopted a pseudonym for himself.

As Shabazz Palaces’ profile and network expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his various creative pursuits and collaborations. Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who has also been a vital and important collaborator in the Shabazz Palaces Universe. Interestingly, Blood and Butler can trace their collaboration and their friendship back to when they were introduced to each other at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive Digable Planets fan, and as an obsessive fan, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have Butler sign — and Butler dutifully did so. 

Over the next few years, Blood and Butler would have chance encounters and sometimes during those encounters, they’d talk about possibly working together. Several years later, when Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. That shouldn’t be surprising — Blood, as a huge hip-hop fan, has a always been an obsessive music listener and fan with eclectic tastes while Butler, a lifelong hip hop fan, began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes. Interestingly, every Shabazz Palaces album has featured a Blood and Butler collaboration, a collaboration that finds the duo specifically focused on and delighting at the intersection of shoegaze, ambient electronica and hip hop, actively and restlessly pushing hip hop towards new psychedelic textures. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

Knife Knight’s debut effort, 2018’s 1 Time Mirage came about after almost a decade of collaboration and the development of a very rich and dear friendship, and the album finds the duo and a cast of collaborators and friends creating a unique sound that meshes soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, noise and chaos recorded over three separate sessions, interrupted by Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets tour schedules and Blood’s recording projects. Each of those three sessions were treated as a free space for unfettered and radical exploration that resulted in album single “Low Key,” a track centered around a hazy production featuring tribal house-inspired beats and shimmering beats, over which Butler delivers his lyrics like a shamanic incantation.

I Time Mirage’s latest single “My Dreams Never Sleep” is centered round an equally hallucinogenic production featuring shimmering synths, a looping bass line, stuttering beats and dreamily delivered vocals. Interestingly, the recently released video for the new single was directed and animated by Joe Garber, and the accompanying visuals are a slow-burning, lyrical and lysergic meditation on love, longing, loss and letting go within both the mortal and spiritual planes. 

New Video: Knife Knights Release Hazy and Surreal Visuals for “Low Key”

Throughout the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Ishmael Butler, , the founder of the critically applauded and groundbreaking hip-hop acts Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces. Now, as you may recall 10 years ago, Butler was preparing to publicly emerge from several years near-complete creative silence. In the summer of 2009. Butler quietly unveiled Shabazz Palaces with a pair of self-released EPs that quickly established the project’s unique sound and aesthetic — Butler’s hyper-literate verses full of complex inner and out rhyme scheme paired with psychedelic sonic textures and refracted rhythms. Initially, confidentiality was essential as Butler desperately wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength and not on his long-held reputation, so he adopted a pseudonym for himself.

Interestingly, as Shabazz Palaces’ profile and network expanded, Butler recognized that he needed new monikers for his various creative pursuits and collaborations. Knife Knights, was the name that he devised for his work with the then-Seattle based engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, who has also been a vital and important collaborator in the Shabazz Palaces web. Blood and Butler can trace their collaboration and their friendship back to when they were introduced to each other at a Spiritualized show in 2003 through a mutual friend, whom Butler was about to record with. As the story goes, Blood was a diehard and obsessive fan of Digital Planets, and naturally as all obsessive fans would likely do, he passed along a bootleg copy Blowout Comb for the mutual friend to have signed — and Butler dutifully provided.

Over the course of the next few years, they’d run into one another by chance and sometimes they’d make small talk about possibly working together. When Butler finally sent Blood a few songs to mix, their creative chemistry was obvious and immediate. Around the same time, Butler, who grew up as an  ardent and passionate hip-hop student began listening to and absorbing shoegaze and ambient soundscapes  while Blood, an ardent hip-hop fan had always been an inclusive and obsessive music listener; in fact, on every Shabazz Palaces album, Butler and Blood have specifically focused on and delighted at that artistic intersection,  pushing hip-hip into new, psychedelic territories. “He [Blood] takes my ideas and clarifies and pronounces them, helps me realize them,” explains Butler in press notes. “He helps me get to the essence.”

After a decade of collaboration together and the development of a very rich and dear friendships, Butler and Blood have written and recorded a proper full-length together as Knife Knights — 1 Time Mirage, an album that finds the duo and a cast of collaborators and friends creating and weaving a unique sound that meshes soul, shoegaze, hip-hop, bass, noise and chaos with the album representing a free space for unfettered and radical exploration. recorded in three separate sessions, interrupted by Shabazz Palaces and Digable Planets tour schedules and Blood’s recording projects. The album’s latest single “Low Key” is centered around a hazy and and hallucinogenic production featuring tribal house-inspired beats and shimmering beats, over which Butler delivers his lyrics like a shamanic incantation. 

Directed by London-based enigmatic luminary Dean Blunt, the recently released video for “Low Key” is equal parts surreal, ridiculous and impenetrable, evoking a dream-like logic within itself, while being hazy and lysergic.