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THEESatisfaction
EarthEE Audrey White , February 19th, 2015 16:47

THEESatisfaction exist outside of time. They channel the power of ancient Egyptian queens, summon the grace and style of 60s jazz icons, and speak with the prophetic voice of visitors from a future we can't even imagine. And yet EarthEE THEESatisfaction's triumphant follow up to 2012's awE naturalE, feels deeply infused with this exact moment. Black America and its allies around the world roil with righteous anger. Last year ended with the wails of the families of black men killed by police echoing in our ears. At least six black trans women have been murdered in the US so far in 2015.

Racial tension — that is to say, racism and the efforts to dismantle it — seems to be reaching violent new extremes. In the midst of that tension, THEESatisfaction prepared to unleash EarthEE upon the world.

On EarthEE, Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White once again serve up an entrancing blend of hip hop and electronic mixed with inspirations from far flung corners of black music and culture. They inject these diverse influences with a focused energy that beams forth like a laser transmitting their sounds right into our ears.

The music's rich textures showcase balanced percussion and synthetic sounds, and Erik Blood's collaboration on production shines through to create polished, natural and hypnotic songs. 'Fetch/Catch', for example, juggles countless layers of musical, rhythmic and vocal tracks to create a piece of music that works flawlessly as one but offers something new to discover with each listen. Contributions from frequent collaborators and ardent supporters Shabazz Palaces add further tension and dynamism.

This exquisite technical work provides a backdrop for poetic lyrics in which Irons and Harris-White dig deep into their experiences to share stories that ferociously echo the social context in which they are presented. They do not equivocate about their blackness or the pain, longing and triumph that come with it. Album higlight 'Blandland' takes on mainstream culture's appropriation of black genres and erasure of black stories with direct lyrics: "they take jazz, take soul, take hip hop, and blame the n*gger every inch and every drip drop."  

EarthEE moves gracefully between the political and personal.  The mesmerising eroticism of 'Nature's Candy' and the hypnotic self-confidence of 'WerQ' deliver ideas just as core to THEESatisfaction's story as the crushing social commentary of 'Post Black, Anyway'. African rhythms and black consciousness create the fibers of each song in a way that sounds intentional and calculated — and also like the only choices the artists involved could have made.

Despite the undercurrent of anger and frustration in some songs, the album is rich with the triumph of black womanhood. The overall result feels positive. The problem is not blackness nor femininity, nor cultural erasure. These are anthems for survival in a society that would just as soon make their communities invisible. "I'm a master with the tricks up my sleeve, you best believe I will achieve, lifetimes pass, I still succeed," they sing in the title track, and it seems futile to doubt them.

It can feel almost voyeuristic as a non-black person to listen to and revel in this album. EarthEE speaks to black people and celebrates blackness with every note. But it does it so brazenly and so masterfully that it demands the attention of every person who comes across it. THEESatisfaction has a message to deliver. There will be no time at the end for questions, but you're welcome to put your hands in the air.

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