When British trip-hop musician Tricky released 1995's Maxinquaye, it was like having to relearn how to hear music. Tricky would follow a gorgeous bit of melody with such a discomfiting tempo that passive listening was nearly impossible.
Seattle-based duo Shabazz Palaces' music requires much of the same. Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire make experimental hip-hop using high-tech instruments, low-tech percussion, and any sound a voice can create; it's music that has been described as "sci-fi" or "way-out" and it demands attention. Take the duo's second album Lese Majesty (SubPop, June 2014) for example. The minute you get comfortable, maybe start to sway to Maraire's hypnotizing hand-drum beats or get lost in Butler's rapid-fire raps, a sonic bomb goes off and an unexpected aural shift brings you right back to the here-and-now. It's music that refuses to be ignored.
(Also, local opener Oso Negro has a new album coming out Friday, Sept. 19, available for streaming at osonegro/bandcamp.)