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Eskmo – Eskmo review

With almost a decade’s worth of tunes under his belt already, San Franciscan producer Eskmo finally drops this astonishing first major album on Ninja Tune. Having slowly moved away from exclusively making dancefloor fodder, his releases on Warp and Planet Mu have shown a richness that puts him up there with Flying Lotus in terms of superior dreamy, Dilla-influenced hip-hop.

Previously released single “Cloudlight” starts the album, with it’s sub-aquatic slo-mo beat and eerie robo-vocal setting the mood perfectly. “We Got More” releases some truly exotic leads, like a chopped and screwed version of crunk-pop a la T.I. or Kanye. “Become Matter Soon, For You” also has definite allusions to “pop” in the widest possible definition thanks to a fabulously syrupy vocal melody, but it’s so perfectly warped that Eskmo creates his own world where most influences seem impervious to the thick walls of slowed-down sound he creates.

Apart from his highly distinctive treatment of vocals, his use of shifting time-signatures (such as on “We Have Invisible Friends”) is mesmerising, while his arrangements show that he’s not just a studio boffin who let’s style rule over substance – the long held note of feedback-like noise toward the end of “Moving Glowstream” for example is a masterstroke and one of the most affecting moments on the whole album. It’s rare to hear an album that’s both completely unique in sound and in structure – this is one of them, and it simply begs to be heard many many times over.

Oliver Keens