Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Shabazz Palaces: Black Up [Sub Pop, 2011]
Play loud. I can't speak to the listening practices of the post-illbient beatmakers whose tricks Palaceer Lazaro gathers together and improves on like he's just been waiting for the go-ahead from Tricky himself. But though I wouldn't be surprised if they blasted everything at 10, I think of them as background guys best heard on de facto dinner comps like, say, Mush Filmstrip (Frame 1). Don't make that mistake on an album that improves mightily when the volume is high enough to break the beats into components so they're impossible to ignore. That way, there's no mistaking it for the aimless prog Sub Pop probably hopes gullible white youngsters lump it with. Special favorites for me are the children's-chorus loop turned mbira-and-hand-drums on "An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum," the kinetic drum'n'whatever of "yeah you," the faux-woodwind-lick/surrogate-maracas-electroclicks/African-etc.-outro of "Swerve . . . the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)." But I like them all--the beats, that is. The titles are for the gullible, and shouldn't give you the wrong idea about the rhymes even though the beats are why you'll play this. Loud. A-