Led by Tlingit bassist/vocalist Preston Singletary, Khu.éex' are a mystical, Native American-dominated jazz-funk unit that featured the final studio and live performances by the late Funkadelic/Talking Heads keyboardist Bernie Worrell. They recorded a massive amount of music with Mr. Worrell (with producer Randall Dunn at the controls), and the latest installment from those sessions is the triple LP Héen ("water" in the Tlingit language). It's a sprawling concept album revolving around Earth's imperiled waters, corrupt, callous politicians, and the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
On "Shell No," Khu.éex' vocalist Nahaan uses a patient, indignant spoken-word delivery to excoriate shale magnates and short-sighted corporations that put profit over the safety of the environment, as if they're going to be immune from its damage, while intoning plans to resist these evil machinations. Musically, "Shell No" is a mesmerizing, low-slung fusion bubbler not dissimilar to Gil Scott-Heron or Don Cherry in laid-back mode. Worrell's organ whorls with some soul-jazz pizzazz while Captain Raab's guitar speaks in weirdly distorted tongues and Skerik's saxophone goes from mellifluity to alarm over the course the track's nearly eight minutes. Nahaan's urgent refrain "No more oil/We can't breathe/No more oil/The future can't breathe" won't penetrate the thick skulls of climate-change-denying GOP leaders, but perhaps future president Nancy Pelosi will heed the message.