Shabazz Palaces, “Since C.A.Y.A.” (Sub Pop). It may seem like we've been over-saturating you with Shabazz Palaces coverage lately, but when you have this monumental a force in your backyard, it's hard to ignore. So I present the second single from Shabazz's forthcoming Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star (out July 14 on Sub Pop, along with its "monozygotic twin" LP, Quazarz Vs. the Jealous Machines), "Since C.A.Y.A." Ish Butler and Erik Blood co-produced this joint under the handle 'Knife Knights' at Protect and Exalt Labs: A Black Space, and they hit up Thundercat to lace it with humid, Cecil McBee-like bass. The song obliquely traces Butler's memories of Seattle's Central Area Youth Association recreation center when he was coming of age in the '70s and '80s. It's a sonically disorienting track, rhythmically shifty and seemingly emanating from a cave bubbling with magma, mirrored by the temporally disjunctive line, "Lost in these streets is now lost in the beat/Man, I can't even remember my last tweet.” (By the way, you can catch Butler rapping in Digable Planets Saturday May 27 at Showbox at the Market.)
Martin Rev, “Now” (Atlas Réalisations). Suicide's musical catalyst Martin Rev shouldn't be sounding so vital at this late date. But the 69-year-old synth sorcerer continues to produce fascinating work, as his new 34-track (!) album for Craig Leon's Atlas Réalisations label, Demolition 9, proves. "Now" begins in Sturm und Drang-ular tumult and then ascends into anguished orchestral grandeur, with drum hits booming like Hollywood bombs. This score for an unimaginable catastrophe sounds nothing like Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream," but you may dig it anyway.
Judy Dyble & Andy Lewis, “The Day They Took the Music Away” (Acid Jazz). If you told me that Fairport Convention/Trader Horne/King Crimson/Giles, Giles & Fripp vocalist Judy Dyble would release a great song on Acid Jazz (who knew that label still existed?) in 2017, I'd have asked what hallucinogens you'd gobbled... and then requested that you give me some. But here we are with "The Day They Took the Music Away." Prog-folk luminary Dyble still sounds as dulcet as you'd like, and her accomplice Andy Lewis has laid down an infectious, Tyrannosaurus Rex-like folk-rock chug (with bonus harmonica) over which Ms. Dyble intones hushed, honeyed thoughts about betrayal. It's a perfect two-minute bundle of understated sonic/lyrical consolation.
Michele Mercure, “In the Air” (Freedom to Spend). Leave it to RVNG Intl. and its new subsidiary Freedom to Spend (run by Eternal Tapestry's Jed Bindeman, ex-Yellow Swans guy Pete Swanson, and RVNG boss Matt Werth) to unearth the most intriguing obscurities from decades past that you never knew you needed in your life until right now. "In the Air" comes from Michele Mercure's 1986 LP Eye Chant, a singularly idiosyncratic smörgåsbord of ambient, exotica, Laurie Anderson-esque art song, and post-punk agitation. "In the Air" is a gorgeous spine-tingler that whisks you away to a world devoid of strife and worry via uplifting synth flourishes and chakra-aligning tintinnabulation. As anyone who reads the news in the 21st century can attest, this type of aural palliative is more necessary than ever.
Select Level, “Sham” (Bandcamp). What happens when two members of Seattle soul-jazz explorers Afrocop go off on a tropical holiday? Select Level, brothers and sisters. Spearheaded by drummer Andy Sells and bolstered by Afrocop keyboardist Noel Brass Jr. and guitarist Joel Cuplin (Constant Lovers), Select Level deal in overtly hedonistic realms of funk and disco. On "Sham," they sound like !!! or long-lost Seattle party-starters Velella Velella under the influence of very strong weed. It's good-time music played with exquisite craftsmanship, like some ideal merger of Boz Scaggs's "Lowdown" and Steely Dan at their grooviest.
Noteworthy May 26 album releases: New Order, NOMC15 (PledgeMusic); Martin Rev, Demolition 9 (Atlas Réalisations); Heliocentrics, A World of Masks (Soundway); Lil Yachty, Teenage Emotions (Virgin); Big Star, Complete Third, Volume 3: Final Masters (Omnivore); Charlatans UK, Different Days (BMG); Danzig, Black Laden Crown (Nuclear Blast); Justin Townes Earle, Kids in the Street (New West); Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Small Town (ECM); Crescent, Resin Pockets (Domino/Geographic); Roger Waters, Is This the Life We Really Want? (Columbia).