Sub Pop released the latest Shabazz Palaces video last Thursday, and I tracked it down today. It's for the song "Are You... Can You... Were You? (Felt)" from last year's transcendent full-length Black Up. The six-minute video is more relaxed in pace than the group's previous visual offering, the short film simply called "Black Up", which used rapid-fire visual techniques to accompany the multi-song soundtrack. Also notable: this time around, SP chose to present only a single song, which was entrusted to Seattle visual artist Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes (with assistance from local guy Futsum Tesgai). Although the group went with a different production team for this video, Alley-Barnes retains the same feeling of visual poetry that Kahlil Joseph had harnessed on "Black Up" and "Belhaven Meridian", and it fits the artful sounds and ambiguity of lyrics well. As with all of the videos (and songs) that emerge from the SP camp, it begs to be discussed rather than explained.
I've asked SP lead man Ishmael Butler about working with visual artists before (at that point, I was asking him about working with Dumb Eyes on the ornate patchwork that accompanied the group's first two EPs, but I think it applies here as well), and he explained that he prefers to let the artist present their own interpretation of his music, rather than come to them with a fully-formed idea. It's a truly poetic approach that exemplifies the group's artistic mind state, and continues to yield amazing results. The music is simply the potion in the water.