by Thomas Bedward January 03, 2022
A confessed raconteur, charlatan, and professional confidence trickster, who is currently weaving his way through life as an innovative hip-hop artist, Ultra_eko is easily one of the most unique and creative musical forces on our radar. After winning over hearts and minds with a string of impressive hip-hop odysseys and epics, Ultra_eko has recently started stirring whispers about his most ambitious release to date, a two-part album that crosses medieval lunatic asylums, the majestic Croydon ‘flyover’ and fabled ocean dwellings.
While previous releases from Ultra_eko have set the stage with tales of the ill-fated ‘Croydon Space Exploration’ program and Subsequel, the space-age AI that made it all possible, the first part of his new project focuses largely on the life and trials of Bernard Beatrice Blitering, the man behind the Ultra_eko moniker.
The International spokesperson for the ‘Aquatic Ape Hypothesis Committee’, Bernard helps lead the search for a fabled ocean-dwelling, known simply as the ‘missing link’. Residing in the South London town of Croydon, though often found time travelling to medieval lunatic asylums where he feels more able to express himself, Bernard’s music draws from long walks up and down the various multi-storey car parks found within the town, and strolls across the majestic Croydon ‘flyover’, a muse to poets and suicidal individuals in equal measure.
Fittingly, the first part of Bernard’s journey is steeped in darkness, reflecting the negative spaces and darkened emotions the drift in and out of his consciousness. Through the nine original pieces that create ‘On Trial’, Bernard explores his darkest moments through shifting hip-hop soundscapes and visceral, emotive elements, mixing contemporary sounds with timeless qualities to create his magnum opus.
Championed by lead single ‘Venom’, which is available from the 21st of January alongside two music videos, the new album is as bold and immersive as ever, casting a wide net of sounds and then layering them to create a truly expressive aural experience. On opening cut ‘The Trial’, Ultra_eko employs haunting atmospherics, and twisted, angelic backing, introducing Bernard’s first chapter with a controlled vocal tone soaked in subtle reverb. Pushing forward with lines like, “Dear Lord, I’ve tried so hard, but find myself in the dark”, the song builds, and the tempo quickens, setting the stage and drawing you in perfectly. As lead single ‘Venom’ arrives, some dark ‘Ill Manors’ vibes emerge alongside flickering off-kilter sparks, pushing the envelope and spilling with hard-earned life lessons and unanswerable questions. It’s a heavy hit, and it’s met perfectly by ‘Warfare’, a relentless mix of hard beats, fast-paced lyrics, and unstoppable energy. A perfect contender for the next single, ‘Warfare’ is an impressive blend of Ultra_eko’s early work, and his new darker style, hinting at moments of triumph, before bringing you right back to reality.
As the album continues, Ultra_eko keeps us guessing, breaking new ground with the acid-soaked beats of ‘Variant’, while ‘21st Century’ rolls with shifting vocal tricks, creating a shifting focal point and swarming perspective that add to the freestyle energy of the piece, before ‘Malevolent’ captures a bold Jekyll & Hyde vibe, lashing out with pure force of will.
In the closing points, the light flickering sense of solace and acceptance that the early tracks hint at returns, and ‘Two Point Four’ and ‘Black Dog’ hit with transformative energy. While the music careens through a dense maelstrom of sounds and audio snippets, leaning on quickstepping beats, subtle pop and dance sections, and soaring expressive passages, the lyrics really push for new ground, delivering wonderfully reflective and self-aware moments that point towards brighter lights on the horizon.
Speaking about the new album, and his decision to break the project into two parts, Ultra_eko explained, “The main reason though is that the two parts are very different in terms of sound and theme. The end of ‘Black Dog’ really does represent a halfway point in the journey. Part one is very dark, filled with negative emotions, and this is reflected in the soundscape. Part two, is more a celebratory piece, about acceptance, forgiveness and joy; I’m in the process of recording, and it will be finished end of January.”
An album that is set to be truly monumental, 'On Trial’ is set to be released in early March of 2022, while lead single ‘Venom’ is available from the 21st of January and features two incredible videos. You can view the official release above, along with the alternate video here.
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