Burlington-based beatmaker Es-K releases music at a blinding clip without compromising quality. So it’s no surprise that following his spellbinding Continuance LP from February he’s back with another full-length album ReCollection, this time on Cold Busted. 24 beats, each named after a specific element on the Periodic Table, await listeners who crack this one open. The Es-K stamp of excellence is all over this album, but it’s less ambitious from a songwriting standpoint than recent work like Continuance or Koan. Instead of lofty and epic, these beats are more introspective and trance-inducing.
There’s a bit of mysticism in all of Es-K’s music, even those hard-hitters that sound like they’re coming straight out of a subway station, off a city stoop, or up from the hot asphalt of urban America itself. ReCollection includes a few of those bangers, but mostly it’s full of pocket grooves that lead the listener deep into a hypnotic state. Here, there’s time and space to think. The imagination is able to fill its lungs and exhale fully. Novel thoughts or perhaps bits of wisdom bubble up out of the ether - “essential knowledge”, which is what Es-K stands for.
One of our favorite cuts is “Crbn”, (“Carbon”) which features Es-K’s signature style of bass line. He has a technique whereby he coats the bass synthesizer with this electronic twang then lets it wobble, like a true space cowboy. It’s a small audio effect with a big payoff. Whenever this sound appears, one can be sure Es-K is hitting the right notes with it and playing a sidewalk-stomping melody. Then there’s “Cblt” (“Cobalt”). I’m not even sure what Cobalt looks like, but the word conjures images of hard grey. The track, too, with a stoic string sample covered in reverb and compression, evokes this same hard grey. Znc (“Zinc”) may take the cake on ReCollection, though, on the sheer strength of its main sample. Then again, this is the type of record one can sink into at first, then walk away from only to come back and find new gems.
Cold Busted is one of the foremost beat labels worldwide, and they and E-K are no strangers to one another. Indeed, Es-K has realized over a dozen times with the label, including 12 (yes 12) installments of his Spontaneous Grooves series. ReCollection is its lack of fidelity. It sounds more sample-based than programmed, another factor that distinguishes it from Es-K’s recent work, which is very crisp and hi-fi. Yet in the context of his prior work with Cold Busted, this new LP is right at home. If these comparisons are of no value to the reader, then we sincerely apologize and strongly recommend peeping Es-K’s back catalog so this jargon can obtain some meaning. Es-K will be performing in Madrid on April 17, and in Boston on May 4.