Bruised jazz, Boho hip hop and soulful poetics from singular Seattlites.
Stevie Chick 2012
The power of words is something THEESatisfaction never take for granted. But more than that, they know this power is only increased, manifold, when the words are sung and rapped, in voices full of truth, vulnerability and beauty. It’s a power the duo – Stas and Cat, self-proclaimed "queens of the stoned-age" – discovered when they met in college in Seattle, where their greatest pleasure was to sing to each other: first other people’s songs then, later, these songs of their own.
awE naturalE – their debut album, following several excellent lo-fi EPs available via Bandcamp and guest appearances on labelmates Shabazz Palaces’ landmark 2011 debut Black Up – furthers that initial singsong interaction, Stas and Cat’s vocals overlapping and entwining with purpose, verses begun in terse rap completed and complemented by exquisitely bruised soul-jazz croons, their intimate conversations composing a voice the duo share and wield expertly.
Over tracks that draw on murky jazz ambience and hypnotic off-kilter hooks – produced by the duo, Stas operating as beatsmith Neon Warwick – THEESatisfaction run a discursive gamut: defiant and swaggering when stating their independence (QueenS, with its brain-burrowing mantra "Whatever you do / Don’t funk with my rule" and dancefloor-ready funk); playful and wise when musing on life’s rich and sour ironies (the sunshine-through-the-clouds hit of Existinct); affecting and profound when touching upon society’s darknesses, and the darknesses within themselves (the mesmerising Deeper).
They’re earnest, for sure, but there’s nothing dry or worthy about THEESatisfaction: their music is full of joy, of sensuousness and sensuality, of acid wit and ambitious creativity. And while their music retains the DIY roots, the warmth and personality of their earlier endeavours, awE naturalE brings those budding ideas to righteous fruition, bristling with seductive hooks and lines that’ll lodge in your transom, earthy riddles that beg unravelling, and plenty of melodic sugar to help the meditative medicine go down.
One could easily draw a line from the spidery proclamations of Ursula Rucker, through the erudite soulfulness of Jill Scott, the otherworldly excursions of the similarly bohemian Erykah Badu, the artful singsong fables of Georgia Anne Muldrow, to THEESatisfaction (and what a constellation that would compose). But such a lineage shouldn’t overshadow this duo’s singular charms, their beguiling uniqueness. When Cat and Stas speak and sing, you really should listen.