This collection of music was something completely unexpected, in a number of ways. You try to place the vocal style and tone within a certain genre, and you’re soon proven to be mistaken. The same goes for the instrumentation. The creative freedom is vast and relentless in this case, and the result is something that consistently surprises and seduces you, further and further at every turn.
There’s a minimal hint of influence, some moments reminiscent of The Weeknd, but this music has something so much more trip-hop and sound-scape about it. You listen to the opening track Queen, the intro, and you start to draw a picture of the collection as a whole. Then you listen to Tighten Up, and you’re back where you started, but with the refreshing knowledge that there is so much more to come, so much variation. Tighten Up is an absolute highlight, the track plays around with everything from the gentle finger picking of an acoustic guitar, to the full on, almost orchestral or choir-like chorus.
The power of the chorus, I’ll show you loneliness, the musical build up and the vocal climax, it all just smashes this part out of the water. It’s a huge moment in the track, and one you’ll crave a return to. The synths build up at the same moment, the crash of the drum, heavily reverbed, just enough so to add a euphoric sort of power, all of which is just adding more and more to this atmosphere. It’s big. A fantastic track, a superb vocal performance, and a pretty flawless piece of music.
Cold Summer switches things up a notch yet again. You get this spoken vocal now, a mellow, extremely laid back sounding rap, with a fairly classic sounding, tripped up beat running throughout the backing track. The production shows some playful experimentation, so you’re tempted to focus on the music a little more than the song writing in this case, but that hook is undeniable – I’ll keep you cold in the summer though. Something about that stands so tall among a lot of other R & B style lyrics put out in recent years. A brilliant quality, really intriguing and memorable.
After this first hook, the vocal of the verse seems to increase in urgency, there’s an attitude attached, quite suddenly, a confidence, as opposed to the earlier, more relaxed delivery. It works really well, you get more and more into it as you listen, and that production keeps you on your toes as you never quite know what will come next. Never complacent, which is always a good thing, and creatively free, as mentioned – a huge deal breaker, and one of the very greatest elements of underground music. That freedom lets you move in any number of directions, intermittently, or all at once – the choice is yours, and the audience will almost always thank you for taking risks.
After this we come to a track called The Rise. This one had me addicted, a bizarre yet rhythmic and gritty guitar part plays around and around, the vocal comes in, loaded with an equal amount of grit and emotion, and that tin-can kind of reverb puts him right there at the end of the line with you. The melody is also quite bizarre, in a good way, it’s fresh – it’s not one you’ve heard before, not one you could predict, but one that sinks into your mind more and more as the song progresses, until you know it by heart, and then you can listen again in confidence – you can follow every moment and be fully involved in the music.
This track would be a personal favourite if it weren’t for Tighten Up. They’re each completely different to the other, so it’s impossible to choose a stronger of the two. At just six tracks long, the simple answer is to get hold of this entire collection, take home ELMT as it is, and revel in the variation and the creativity – not to mention the immensely unique and skillful vocal performance highlighted by the artist from start to finish. Listen to it loud. There are some real moments that will just take your breath away.
The project ends with Better Than Two, that experimental production coming to an absolute climax, this dream-like ambiance unfolds and wraps it’s musical peace around you; the beat taking you captive, the vocal holding you there. It’s a hypnotic and honestly quite striking end to the collection. The lyrics Tiko uses and features throughout are in a world of their own entirely, which is something you can’t ignore, and something you shouldn’t even try to. It’s exciting, and appealing on a number of levels – not least of all because it makes every track just scream out with originality; a wonderful and utterly important thing to capture in today’s world of music.