By: Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez
Gravitas Recordings has been kicking ass this year.
As the end of 2020 approaches, I can’t help but feel giddy when thinking on what the collective has done this year and will continue to do as 2021 goes on. Whether it be their slew of sleek electronic artists or the great relationship they have with their fans, their way of putting out music is truly top-notch.
What better way to celebrate the end of the year than with one more project by one more talented artist? ESCPE, the artist in question, keeps up with the label’s incredibly diverse and psychedelic aesthetic on his newest EP, Cloud Walk…but he transforms these aesthetics into something truly heavenly.
Cloud Walk is the soundtrack to your soul ascending to the utopia of the sky.
The opening moments of Cloud Walk hit you with the warmth of a rising sun. “Dawn” is a wonderful opener to the EP, with the opening seconds already being a rainbow-colored mix of guitar strums, heavy bass, and silky-smooth backing vocals. Just as a rising sun breathes life onto a new day, this track injects the listening experience with vitality out of the gate. While short, it is a capable tune that is a great introduction into the otherworldly tone of the album, continued with the decidedly darker companion track “Dusk.” Just as dusk in the real world has its own moody beauty, so too does this song, using a haunting piano line, sitars, and fuzzy bass to craft a cloud-filled dreamscape. This track makes me feel like I’m sleepwalking in the sky as shooting stars blaze beside me…if that’s a colorful description, wait until you hear the color on this track.
One of Cloud Walk‘s biggest strengths is its brevity. The consistently airy and psychedelic tone of the record may drag on for some should the record be longer, but at a crisp six tracks, ESCPE explores the sky in a way that is succinct and effective. Despite its short length, however, the individual songs can be gargantuan in their experimentation. “Suncrown,” Escpe’s collaboration with Axel Thesleff, undergoes massive changes in instrumental focus, going from harpsichord plucking to trap drums to massive bursts of horns. The track very much feels like a thundercloud, rumbling and destructive but mesmerizing at the same time. It’s ESCPE at their absolute best, guiding the listener’s soul through the clouds. “Memories,” in contrast to the previous song, is much more simplistic in its nature, but it still has plenty that can charm the listener: the female vocal samples and laser blasts throughout make the song a great vibe for meditation or late night drives.
Although it’s sad to see good things come to an end, I can affirm that Cloud Walk ends in a great way. “Sacred” is a mix of trip-hop, psych-rock, and ethereal house that blends genres in a truly creative way. While it may be a bit weak on the structural end of things due to its repetitive nature, I find it to be a nice showcase of ESCPE’s ability to compose unique soundscapes. “Overgrown” is even more hip-hop focused (especially on the drum rhythms), but it still manages to mix in elements of pops and orchestral music in a bittersweet descent from the sky. As an ending, it’s the last moments before you touch the ground and go back to normal living. It’s the most familiar-sounding track on the project…but I believe it’s purposely so. It reflects how the listener goes back to normal living after their journey on Cloud Walk with ESCPE: as we head back to the daily routine, we can’t help but ache for one more trip to the clouds.
Cloud Walk is an excellent EP. It truly encompasses its title, bringing in heavenly compositions and unique genre blending that can be as soothing as a summer breeze or as chaotic as a hurricane. With projects like this, it’s safe to say that the Gravitas Recordings lineup is on a hot streak…I can’t wait to see what Escpe and the rest of the collective does next!
Tracks to Save: “Dawn,” “Dusk,” “Suncrown,” “Overgrown”
Special thanks to ESCPE, Gravitas Recordings, and all other parties involved in sharing this special album with us!
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