Beats from Es-K bump on a higher plane. This beatmaker, Robert Ronci from Burlington, Vermont by way of Kansas City, Missouri, is truly a sampling extraordinaire and a master hip-hop composer. He works frequently with rap vocalists and he's represented on some of the world's best beat labels. After years of writing instrumentals for rappers and producing compilation series, he just released his debut LP - a stunning, mystical work called Koan that transcends beats music entirely while remaining rooted within it.
Es-K is on the official roster at NINETOFIVE and Cold Busted, two labels that provide beatmakers all over the world with a sturdy platform from which to offer their music. He also releases with Bucktown USA based in Brooklyn and Millennium Jazz Music based in London. In other words, Es-K is a real continental fellow. Bucktown is where one can find his latest vocal pairing, an album titled Rebirth of the Slickest with VVS Verbal.
As a masterful sampler, Es-K knows how to dig, cut and amplify samples to create the classic sound of the past. Check out "Release (Let it Go)" for a neck-breaking example. At the same time, his beats forecast the sound of the future. His compositions stretch into new territory away from boom-bap and into lo-fi and quasi-electronic realms. One can catch the faint edge of synthesizers in his music. Check out "Gotaway" from his Beats, Etc. series on Bandcamp for an example. There you'll also find 24 installations of the Spontaneous Groove series on Cold Busted. Each installation includes approximately 10 beats. Do the math and you realize Es-K has an archive absolutely overflowing with knocks. This music is not available on Soundcloud. In many ways, it exceeds in sophistication and quality what is available from Es-K on Soundcloud save for Koan. If you enjoy this week's curated playlist, the rest of the iceberg can be found on Es-K's Bandcamp, linked below.
Notwithstanding this catalog covering hundreds of songs over four or five years, this debut LP Koan is the real head-turner. Koan creates a supreme mood and curates an atmosphere of urban shamanism. A koan is a riddle or paradox that when meditated upon can spark enlightenment. Indeed this LP is an aural representation of this process. A cross-section of cuts from the album are included in this week's playlist, but we encourage folks to listen to the release in its entirety. Unlike some beats work, it's not transient. It has staying power. It's true composition. Fans of Emancipator, older Gramatik, and Uyama Hiroto will find some familiar territory here, but truly Es-K is carving out sonic space all his own with Koan.
Es-K elevates the art form of beatmaking. While we're eager to hear what he'll offer next on the heels of this debut LP, we admittedly have some catching up to do on his back catalog.