Not for the faint of heart, but for the hip hop fan with an unstoppable craving for something impressive, meaningful, and refreshingly original. Ultra_eko is at the forefront of unmissable indie right now; and is one of the UK’s most auspicious rising acts.
There’s an early juxtaposition between the apparent simplicity of kitchen sink dramas and the religious depth and historical context presented by opening track The Seventh Day. Ultra_eko gifts the listener a moment of calm, just briefly, before his faultless, relentless verse vocal crashes through with detail and intensity united.
I’m actually reminded of Faithless a little here. Though the pace is more high-octane, the vocal rhythm and story-telling tip their hats to Mass Destruction. That ambient chorus adds a welcomed break, and furthers that potential artistic influence.
As with all of his music, it’s not easy listening – nor is a single run-through anything like enough to truly take it all in. This is an EP to obsess over, to spend time with and to listen to so repeatedly that you can’t help but learn the bars and find yourself attempting to match them.
Six Numbers follows, the single that stormed through unforgettably yet offered merely a taste of what was to be expected from the upcoming EP.
Then, King Of The Wild Things is beautiful – a welcomed moment of melody, musical minimalism; a retro key-line and a simple beat. The voice is a little gentler, more up-close and personal, the story a tad more accessible. If there needs to be a mainstream-friendly moment on the EP, which I’m not sure there does anymore, but if there did – this would likely be it. Poetic imagery and metaphor meet with a revealing sense of reflection and vulnerability. A personal favourite, musically brilliant, progressing in a subtle yet addictive way.
There’s a hint of the alternative, indie aura put forth by artists like Dizraeli to moments like this. Ultra_eko forms these multi-layered stories and remains focused on the concept in a unique, refreshing way.
Soul’s Code follows with a similar musical mood. Haunting yet strangely calming, satisfying, then increasingly energizing. Musically impeccable, melodically resolving in a superb fashion. This project feels like an artist finding his identity, his flow and intention as an contemporary creative.
Run Away hits with impact where it is, striking with a sudden societal breadth and boldly outlining of the state of our times. From vague, all-inclusive declarations, to again personal tales of individual struggle and hardship, eko meanders through this concept with flawlessly articulate, profoundly aware accuracy.
They call it a vicious circle for a reason…
Once or twice on this EP there appears a touch of Bristol indie influence from the likes of – as mentioned, Dizraeli, and even acoustic artists like Nick Mulvey. The guitar and piano sound is often gentle, simple to allow for lyrical complexity. Ultra_eko’s voice even leans towards a Mulvey tone during moments of melody. That UK energy stands tall, alongside clear talent, powerful story-telling, and a defiant level of clarity.
Twisted is all of this, topically hard to stomach yet softened by the delicacy of the music and the hook. A bizarrely sublime yet unsettling way to finish – perhaps the most wholly-crafted, thoughtful arrangement yet, building up with humble anticipation. The wordplay and the framing of ideas is consistently impressive, occasionally phenomenal.
If 2020 is to be as promising musically as it first looked set to be, this is an artist categorically a part of that – and a project well worth letting play in full. Musically beautiful, conceptually fascinating and often notably provocative. Kitchen Sink Dramas is defiantly one I’ll be returning to.