Knife Knights fill out Shabazz Palaces' musical universe with 1 Time Mirage | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Knife Knights fill out Shabazz Palaces' musical universe with 1 Time Mirage 

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click to enlarge Knife Knights

Knife Knights

Justin Henning

If the woozy, intergalactic raps on Knife Knights’s debut full-length, 1 Time Mirage (Sub Pop), remind you of Seattle hip-hop outfit Shabazz Palaces, they should. Ever since rapper Ishmael Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire launched Shabazz Palaces more than a decade ago, they’ve grown their catalog by finessing songs in jams with engineer Erik Blood—and the core of Knife Knights is the duo of Butler and Blood. Shabazz Palaces is so closely linked to Knife Knights that "offshoot" or "side project" falls short of describing the incestuous relationship between the two. Most of the songs on 1 Time Mirage were recorded in improvisational sessions with pals in Knife Knights’s circle, including OCnotes and Marquetta Miller, and three tracks list guest contributions from . . . Shabazz Palaces. This makes me wonder where Butler's contributions as half of Knife Knights end and his contributions as half of Shabazz Palaces begin, but the guests mostly seem to want to set a mood, not flex their individuality, so I doubt I’ll ever know. Only three songs don’t feature guests at all, but two of those are the album’s strongest: the clattering "Seven Wheel Motion" and the anxious “Mr. President” (whose foreboding, metallic synths and murmuring percussion will stick in your head like the best of Shabazz Palaces) stand out as complete, self-contained gestures amid the record’s loose, shape-shifting structure and spontaneous feel.   v

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