The internet is a haven for mysterious, untitled tracks and anonymous artists who prefer to let their songs speak for them. It’s a strange double-edged sword when it comes to music; on one hand it’s a purer form of expression that alleviates the pressures of image and marketing, but on the other, it can often place a cold, stone wall between the artist and an audience that are eager to connect.
In the case of Ace A CAped CrusAder, the stakes have been raised and the anonymity strictly secured. An artist with an Instagram account, but no posts, a Twitter account with only one retweet (a rather poignant message stating, “Art is worth dedicating our life to”), and a SoundCloud page bio who simply says, “alone”, Ace A CAped CrusAder might be one of the most enigmatic artists we’ve ever dealt with.
Their new release is the sixteen-track collection that is intriguing titled ‘lonely a’. Something of a genre-bending anthology that spirals through hip-hop beats and ambient digital soundscapes, the release brings to life a dizzying concoction of sounds and extremes. Everything about the album denotes a subtle joining of contrasts, with near-spoken word vocals delivered with power and promise often layered over more relaxed and subdued beats. Even the song titles lean towards this contrast, veering from emotive, almost poetic titles like ‘love you numbs the pain’ and ‘for you I’d bleed myself dry’ to the somewhat flippant and callow ‘I’m too drunk to be thinking about you in this fucking club, lol’.
It’s a hard album to review, not just because of its scale, but because of its free-flowing design and apparent potential. Across the sixteen tracks Ace A CAped CrusAder offers up haunting, transient vocals that transform into the artist’s more rigid delivery while glistening streams of digital sounds flicker around it on the aforementioned track, as well as a more immediate and melodic undertaking in ‘I luv pain’. While the ideas and themes of each track seem to erupt from the unknown history of the artist, there is a clear, refined sound that is caught somewhere between IDM, dream-pop and contemporary hip-hop.
Smothering each of his tracks with ethereal backing and beats that push each song forward without overstepping the vocals, Ace A CAped CrusAder has found a way to add power to his songs and messages without overreaching or forcing his hand. It’s a subtle, building sound that quietens the more explosive nature of the artists vocals, arriving at rewarding middle ground that is easily accessible and enjoyable.