Sunday, August 3, 2014

Vinyl Review: Shabazz Palaces' Lese Majesty Loser Edition

Earlier this week Shabazz Palaces' 2nd LP Lese Majesty hit the masses. My adoration of their previous record, Black Up, had me more than excited for the announcement. So, with SubPop releases a special Vinyl Loser Edition of Lese Majesty for pre-orderers, I knew I had to make my first vinyl purchase. It finally arrived, & here is my review, critiquing the quality of the product. For my album review, you can head over here



What mainly separates the Loser Edition from the normal vinyl of Lese Majesty are the clear, purple haze pressed vinyls. You can see them above in all their purple glory. Unfortunately for most, these are now sold out & can not be purchased. I was able to snag myself a copy on the day of the announcement of this album. I couldn't handle the wait. Around that time I began pondering beginning a vinyl collection & once Lese Majesty was announced I knew right then & there that it would be my first purchase. Excluding the purple vinyl's, which have been substituted by sleek black vinyl's with the same emblem's & outlines, everything else listed is available for purchase from the SubPop MegaMart. The first, & most obvious, piece of content is the packaging of which holds the two vinyls, within their respective sleeves & other various goodies. The cover sports an alternate version of Lese Majesty's main cover, which elegantly spells out their name. Also included is a '7 of a bonus track entitled Palace Slide on the A side, & its instrumental accompaniment on the B. The two vinyl sleeves use the album's previously announced cover, substituting white & black coloring with inverted black & red. Also included is a foldout of the album's 'tracklist,' shown through what seems like a building blueprint layout. Finally two small snickers round out the packaging, one containing SubPop's logo, the other Lese Majesty's cover, this time surrounded by gold coloring.


Just as important as the musical content held within the vinyl's are the aesthetics of the product you're buying. Now, I haven't yet had much experience with vinyl collecting so my limited palette may inflate my beliefs on how stellar this Limited Edition is. Firstly the packaging itself is made in some form of sleek suede, with the visuals of the cover embossed over its front. I don't really like how difficult it is to see, but rest assured, it's much easier to see in person. The album's true cover, white with black lines, would have, in my opinion, looked much better. The two sleeves look cool with the jutting lines, but I have to say I wasn't much of a fan of the initial album cover, so these variations on that concept don't intrigue me much beyond the color distortion. The bread & butter of the Loser Edition however is the purple haze vinyl, which is as neat as it sounds. I'm not quite sure how it's done, but regardless, the swaying light reflections & the clear background is terrific. Also there are hand-engraved numbers to indicate which copy your Edition is. The odd tracklist layout is all parts awesome as it is confusing. Searching for some deeper message held within it will more than likely prove worthless, but it does make for a intriguing poster. Each suite, as they're known on the album, is supported by a color scheme, of which are printed into each vinyl to let you know which side you're own, instead of the typical text printout. Finally, there's the cover of the Palace Slide, which features, well, I don't really know. It seems like a nightmare straight out of Palaceer Lazaro's mind, with strange geometric shapes, what seems like Arabic scribbles, and a center-piece of some odd human character, distorting itself while wearing an elaborate headpiece, much like Lazaro himself does. Overall, the coloring & elegance of this vinyl is top-notch & a great addition for someone who diggs Shabazz Palaces.


Once again, for an in-depth review on the album itself you can look here. However, vinyl brings with it an audio quality unmatched by a digital format of which I originally heard the album on. And I can succinctly say that my anticipation for hearing this on my record player has been met. The album, production-wise, is a stunner. It's chock full with elements, sounds so scarce, diverse, & random, some which are still unbeknownst to me, that diving into this vinyl time & time again will greet you with a new treat. Possibly the greatest aspect of this vinyl is the transitions, something Shabazz was well aware while creating it, down to separating tracks into specific suites. What they did was combine like-minded tracks while having each one flow seamlessly between the next, only letting up once it was time to start a new suite. The best example of this is Suite #2, Touch & Agree. Solemn Swears evaporates out of the thin air it was created in, morphing into Butler's chiming chants of "yeah, yeah, yeah," on Harem Aria, carrying a "lala" escapade over to Noetic Noiromantics, before concluding with a ticking thump transitioning into The Ballad Of Lt. Maj. Winnings. Rinse & repeat this approach to each suite. This album is clearly best heard on vinyl. The low bass thumps, of which there are plenty, substantiate and resonate, while the chimes on Forerunner Foray & other high tremble points throughout poignantly streak across, not glossing over other instrumental factors. Lese Majesty is composed with pristine measurements.

Palace Slide

The accompanying track joining our other 18 stands on its own as it's rather clear Palace Slide wouldn't necessarily fit on Lese Majesty. With a simple beat following a repeated bass line and claps littered throughout, Butler bounces across, landing on the beat with his rhymes, of which are rather basic compared to the majority of Lese Majesty. As per usual however with Shabazz music are the constant on-edge feeling that the song could take a quick departure, of which it does two times. The first comes in a breakdown that sounds like an cookout on the beaches in Hawaii, with a star-gazing synthesizer carrying us out of it. This instance returns to conclude the track. It's a lovely interpolation & is uncharacteristically uppity for a Shabazz tune. Meld this with the connecting section between them, with Butler chanting to "slideeeeee," & you're given quite the relaxing tune. In essence, entirely different than the feelings its bearing cover conjures up.

Overall, Shabazz Palaces' Loser Edition vinyl is a sleek, cool package that contains one hell of a quality record that reaches to the ends of our musical spectrum for inspiration. The odd, unique nature of the Loser Edition only further showcases, and likens itself, to the style Palaceer Lazaro & producer mate Baba exude, with their fashion sense, language, and swagger.

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