Album Review: THEESatisfaction - aWE naturalE

30 April 2012 | 2:25 pm | Matt MacMaster

"Despite its sophisticated ecosystem of influences it’s a very unique album, and the first real revelation of this year."

Seattle future-soul musicians, THEESatisfaction, dig deep on their commercial debut, aWE naturalE. It's a record that looks to the future as much as the past, so whilst it's informed by black jazz from the '70s and hip hop in its formative stage in the early '80s, its delivery system is made up of loops and synth experimentation and warm, post-dubstep production (think of the organic folktronica of Bibio with the abstraction of Actress).

After throwing out a warbly synth mess for the opening track it rapidly morphs into a focused exploration of several different styles. The muted funk of Bitch segues into the angular, clockwork piano-driven rhythms of Earthseed, and the playfully sleazy loops of Sweat (complete with horns covered in digital syrup) are nicely juxtaposed with the strange jungle jazz haze of Juiced. God offers the clearest window into their jazz roots with beautifully cut piano loops and soft yet sinewy drum breaks that could've been lifted from a Jazz Messengers piece. There's a lovely tension maintained in the music as the girls manoeuvre lithe phrase work inbetween the jostling instrumentation. Shabazz Palaces' Palaceer Lazaro guest stars. They rhyme about politics and relationships but it isn't the sole focus. This isn't a thematically heavy album, but it's not without substance.

Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White have beautiful voices that stand tall amongst the best contemporary African American R'n'B singers but don't bother with the pomp and superfluous vocal gymnastics of pop stars. The sexually-charged Deeper is an excellent showcase of their natural talent, blending relaxed rhymes with sensuous harmonising. Despite its sophisticated ecosystem of influences it's a very unique album, and the first real revelation of this year.