Eskmo: Eskmo
Ninja Tune

Brendan Angelides' debut artist album under the Eskmo name (inspired, incidentally, by The Residents' 1979 album Eskimo) arrives after many years of preparation. Though the past half-decade has seen the San Francisco-based producer issue over a dozen singles and EPs (on his own labels, Eskmo Recordings and Ancestor, plus Warp, Planet Mu, and Ninja Tune) and collaborate with Amon Tobin under the Eskamon guise, his self-titled full-length is his first formal album since Machines On Task, a CD actually created for a high school graduation project and which he gave out gratis between 1999 and 2000 at some of his first performances.

And what a recording Eskmo is. It's heady in the extreme, a trippy, genre-defying blend that draws upon hip-hop, glitch-funk, dubstep, and crunk without pledging allegiance to any one in particular. Throughout the fifty-minute set, synthesizer melodies, percussive textures, found sounds, and treated vocals flutter and careen through thick, hyperactive webs while heavy kick drums and snares provide rock-solid foundations below. Standout tracks include “Cloudlight,” which drenches curdling beats with bright synth wooze and his treated voice musing about “pieces of sky” and “floating and floating and floating and floating,” and “Moving Glowstream,” wherein claps, buried vocals, and banks of synth blaze swim in a deep electronic pool, with all of it urgently pushed along by a clanking bottom end. Also memorable are the sick blues stomp and slo-mo blues-funk of “We Got More” and “Become Matter Soon, For You,” respectively. The inclusion of piano in “Siblings” is initially jarring, arriving as it does amidst such resolutely electronic material, but Angelides uses the acoustic sounds to create a track different from the rest yet still unmistakably Eskmo. Angelides' own description of his tracks as “little universes” is accurate in noting their self-contained character. Immaculately produced and equally dazzling and dizzying, Eskmo feels visionary more often than not.

October 2010