Ultra_eko - Dark Nights Of The Soul - Stereo Stickman

Ultra_eko Dark Nights Of The Soul


The pinnacle moment, the long-awaited peak of an indie reign rooted in purpose, skill and imaginative originality – Ultra_eko delivers potentially his most iconic and revealing project yet, with the 2024 album Dark Nights Of The Soul.

Unequivocally the master of long-form rhymes that hold attention in both rhythm and intensity of story and revelation, Ultra_eko reaches new levels of leadership with this album, in musicality and writing alike. His consistent lack of will to adhere to the so called industry’s expectations culminates, presenting a ‘fuck the scene’ attitude reminiscent of the greats, only from an underground legend as yet unsurpassed in both ability and creative identity.

We begin with Don’t Miss, and all of this is clear – a complex yet musically satisfying track that insists you listen more than a single time. It’s a heavy introduction, but a self-penned ‘brand new start’, and paves the way well for the subsequent journey.

After this, Tricks of the Light is phenomenal; a breathless outpouring of faultless rhymes within soulfully sung passages that feel like a novel reading or stage show, all wrapped up between the sheets of an infectious and mighty hook. Eko’s emotional conviction is unrivalled here, and the piano progression and sudden immensity of the beat and bars consistently elevates that.

“We are just random collections of moments and days that define us… The hope always blinds us then kills us with Tricks of The Light.”

As we move on, expect to be increasingly enveloped and consumed by the rising passion of both these neo-classical productions and the relentless grit and emotion of Eko’s bars and delivery. Unsaid is all of this, simple yet striking as it tightens its grip around you.

DaRealMrLee then makes an appearance on the sharp and supremely intelligent Herbal Warfare, before the strings return, as Ultra_eko delves back into thoughts of Faith and God and the role of the self, for a captivating, haunting, heartbroken but boldly inspiring Blasphemy. The pace rises and rises, the research and personal reflection intertwining for a spellbinding listen that feels like a contemporary Gospel reading with an edge of modern scorn.

Conquered kicks in with topical criticism and a sort of trip-hop to dark cinema sound, plus another snappy feature from DaRealMrLee. This one feels minimalist in a way, but rounds off with a memorable hook, and as ever leaves its audience plenty to contemplate.

Despite his passion and angst at the helm, Ultra_eko consistently balances the desire to write and express his inner most demons and ideas, with a defiant twist of audience awareness and musical understanding. As such, the arrangement of this project is as engaging as the lyrical content, and delivers an array of what are potentially his most catchy and memorable songs yet.

In example, Lullaby changes everything – a jolty flow, a melodic production, a topical depth contrasted by a relatable comfort; a fearlessly theatrical yet intimate and poignantly relevant audio outburst.

“Do you remember us? Oh you must remember us… The ghosts of your past, parts of your life you’d rather forget but really cannot.”

Another example and in stark contrast is ABC – a gritty classic rap track that pays homage to Eko’s roots and the Hip Hop legends who first inspired him. Here we bridge that gap more than ever between artist and audience – a valuable moment of connection, such moments being few and far between across his unrivalled and extensive repertoire.

Desperate Times then reignites the euphoric dance aspect of Eko’s past work – an intensely all-consuming production and an infectious hook surrounding another commentary on both the development of the self and state of the outside world.

Then to finish, we turn down a dimly bass-lit pathway, for the mellow poetic outpouring of a partial title-track, which is beautifully motivational in its depth, deprivation, and devotion to change.

This album feels a little like a door closing on the past, and the walls blocking the brightness of the future being forcefully torn down. Outing the truth, leading with strength of character and sharp wit, Ultra_eko is unarguably a legend within the independent realm, but for those yet to listen – start with Dark Nights of The Soul, and see if you don’t wind up spiralling down the rabbit hole of his musical projects to date.

There’s genuinely nobody else like Ultra_eko. Not only this, but the unorthodox or unusual qualities are skilfully balanced with a defiant ear for anthemic and immersive music; the sort that connects and makes you feel something intense and lasting.

Find Ultra_eko on Twitter & Instagram. Listen to our podcast interview on Soundcloud or read more here.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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