Written By: Omar Stamp
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We’re all familiar with, and possibly reside in one of the large cities most famous for their music scenes. You know…New York, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Berlin…Seattle. Well, that last one may not be a genre hub like the others, but every city and even the small towns in between, are capable of producing unique pockets of sound. This phenomenon applies perfectly to THEESatisfaction.
Consisting of Tacoma, WA rapper Stasia “Stas” Irons, and the Hawai born singer, Catherine “Cat” Harris-White, the duo combine their individual homegrown flair to create what I personally describe as “afro-centric keyboard synth pop”. First meeting at one of Washington State Universities’ open MICs, their formation was as organic as the title of their first album “awE NaturalEE”. Rapper Irons recalls how “I was attracted to Cat’s voice, I would go to the open mic and close my eyes and zone out whenever she sang. I finally had the courage to speak to her… it took a while.” They were signed to Sub-Pop records off of their guest track on Shabazz Palace’s 2011 album Black Up. This review will cover their second full length album, “EarthEE”.
At thirteen tracks, it’s most definitely a true LP, and I’ll say from the jump that although categorized as “Hip-Hop”, the overall sound and feel is far from any commercial form of the genre. So definitely come in with a clean palette; and perhaps even some “inspiration” from the Earth, which is the one area where THEESatisfaction stays grounded in their Rap roots. Listening through twice, just to make sure, it becomes apparent that the sequencing on EarthEE is intentional, with a couple consecutive “what the…” moments stretching for two or three songs. The overall tempo is slow (it’s a no twerk zone), perfect for Stas and Cat to continuously rap-sing around each other’s verses. At it’s best, the production is minimal, often revolving around only three or four electronic elements, mainly a synthesizer, and a single snare drum. I was pleased however to hear some electric and bass guitar. I did my listening on German engineered cup headphones, so I definitely got a nice ear massage from all the sub-bass throughout, and imagine that everyone will get a few goosebumps with the right sound system.
As for the Vocals, they consist of a lot of chanty, long held notes, and remind me of the mythical sirens in Greek Mythology, only more soulful. At times this combines well with the oceans between beats, but at other times it can be a bit strange, since a lot of the singing and instrumentation is atonal (not revolving around any chord); which was again intentional. I could tell that Stas is capable of letting loose on the right track, but I can’t say that she has a legit rap solo anywhere on the track list. A lot of her verses also feature a heavy delay effect making her sound far away, as you’ll see in the official video for the lead single, “EarthEE”.
My personal favorite was the track “Blandland”, which is by far the most rhythmic, and featuring a soothing bass guitar. It’s just as unorthodox as all the others, but strangely made me want to gyrate, but not too hard. To sum it up, words can’t really even describe this album, but I’d say the cover art is spot on.
On May 13th, 2016, the duo announced that after seven years together, they would be taking time to “…grow our individual careers to the next level”. I wish them luck on their journeys, but THEESatisfaction will certainly continue to echo through space and time.