It’s rare that we get to work with an artist whose vision is as expansive and fully formed as what Cat Harris-White and Stas Irons are giving us through the mouthpiece of their neo-soul/avant-rap project THEESatisfaction. To listen to the duo’s new album, EarthEE, is not to casually consume a few tracks, but to be hypnotized by dissonance, to be lost in vast echoey spaces, and ultimately, to fully enter the benevolent Afrocentric philosophy of THEESatisfaction.
An interesting example of how earnestly Harris-White and Irons approach the socio-political potential of their music is given in the form of Black Weirdo, a blog/group maintained by the duo that posts and re-blogs iconic and provocative images of black figures, history, and pop culture, and in their own words, “allows blackness to be celebrated and appreciated in all facets on earth and throughout the universe.” Many have noted that the oblique references to space and the cosmos in their message and artwork serve to further expand the conceptual landscape of THEESatisfaction’s universe into the strange but well-established tradition of Afro-futurism.
The new record leans heavily on elements of spoken word, astral jazz, new R&B, and a myriad of other cultural touch points that combine to feel like a genuine breath of fresh air in the current landscape of emerging music. Along for the psychedelic ride are long-time hometown collaborators like Shabazz Palaces, as well as like-minded genre-bending Afro-fusion stalwarts such as Meshell Ndegeocello.
EarthEE is out next week, and is currently streaming in full at NPR.