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Album Review: Eskmo – SOL

2 min read

Electronic music is becoming stale. Artists are reusing their own beats, they’re recruiting similar vocalists and the genre is slowly becoming synonymous with pop music. This isn’t an inherently bad thing, but it does mean that it’s becoming less creative. It’s artists like Eskmo who are stepping out of the boundaries of electronic music to create something deeper, as he does on SOL, that are keeping it afloat.

Eskmo SOLAnd to say that he stands out from the popular opinion of electronic music is an understatement. SOL is a sparse album, often using less sounds in each song rather than more. It’s almost entirely instrumental barring the songs Mind of War and Blue and Grey, plus a few vocal samples here and there throughout the album. The songs are repetitive, with a lot of extended notes playing over simple drum beats and equal amounts of abrasive wavering synth lines. It’s not entirely different from his previous work, but the concept does offer the album a unifying sound that feels more cohesive. If anything, it plays more like an instrumental Björk album than one you would expect from an electronic musician.

Admittedly, the album doesn’t leave the best first impression. Songs seem to blur past before you know one has ended, especially over the first two tracks before the vocal songs kick in. While heavy use of live instruments is present in Blue and Grey and Tamara, It’s only on repeated listens that their place in the more electronic songs, such as the full use of strings in The Light of One Thousand Furnaces and the use of piano in Can’t Taste, jump out at you. They give the album an extra sense of connectivity, and offer another layer of depth to the songs while also helping Tamara, a lone piano ballad on an electronic album, fit into the album better than it did before.

And as a concept album, it does its job surprisingly well. Both the inclusion of certain sounds and absence of expected electronic music concepts give the album an otherworldly feel, with a space-like vibe coming off of every instrumental song on the album, though less so for vocal tracks. Even if you can’t grasp the story supposedly hidden behind the album, the mood is set so perfectly that you definitely don’t need to know it to enjoy the product.

There’s no doubt that SOL is a weird album, though in a refreshing way. Hearing alternate takes on electronic music helps offer some variety compared to the mass produced options, and shows there’s still artistry involved in the genre. As both a concept album and regular album it succeeds at making something interesting and different, working well as either background music or something to legitimately focus on. It might not click with you instantly, but once it does the true magic of SOL will start to shine through.