THEEsatisfaction - Awe Naturale

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2012-04-09

Sub Pop delves deeper into Seattle's hip hop scene with this album from Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White. These self-proclaimed "queens of the stoned-age" will be familiar to those who have been following Shabazz Palaces, also signed to Sub Pop. While Shabazz's frontman Ishmael Butler crops up here on 'God', this album is very much its own funky, soulful beast.

Awe Naturale presents a fragrant, dense mix of soul, funk, jazz and Afro-beat over which the duo rap-sing. The vibes on songs such as 'QueenS' and 'Earthseed' are frequently spacey, the beats skipping and ethereal, while the vocals are rich and creamy. The overall effect is of an Erykah Badu album produced by Flying Lotus. Throughout the album, the ladies keep up a feel of sumptuous bedroom-eyes soul going lysergic at the edges, while the album's cover makes the duo's debt to consciousness-raising 70s soul obvious.

If there's one criticism to be leveled at the album, it's that many of the tracks feel too brief. Great, enveloping grooves such as the peppy funk of 'Sweat' and the trippy, squelchy 'Juiced' flash by before you can really get a grip on them. However, like the many snippets of experimentation which fill up Fly-Lo albums, these track certainly repay repeated visits. Only on the Gil Scott Heron styled 'God' do THEEsatisfaction stretch out a little, along the twisting, avant-jazz rhythms to hypnotise and create a smoky space in the listener's mind.

Awe Naturale is certainly an album which demands a bit of time to unravel - at times Cat and Stas make little concession to the listener's comfort with either their beats or rhymes. It's definitely worth putting in that time, but next time they should move away from the format of short, almost skit-length songs. However, this is still a sexy, spooky, super-confident album from a duo who demand and deserve your attention.

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