Bladee / Ecco2k - Crest Music Album Reviews

Bladee / Ecco2k - Crest Music Album Reviews
The Drain Gang collaboration is one of the best projects to come out of the rap and hyperpop-adjacent Swedish collective. It’s a softly textured and sweetly spiritual quest for something bigger than ourselves. 

Though sustained by a fanbase that’s fluent in memes and irony, Sweden’s Drain Gang is propelled by a rare kind of sincerity. At once, their music possesses a childlike sense of wonder, an adolescent infatuation, and a grown-up fear of the future. Whereas so much of the rap internet is steeped in ideation and a nihilistic rage, and so much of the hyperpop they’re also linked to is honed to an ironic edge, Drain Gang most embodies the smiley-face positivity of turn-of-the-millennium rave culture, an influence that’s been obvious in their music for years, but has become even more apparent in their worldview and their communal live shows.

Drain Gang’s deep connection with their audience mirrors the deep connection between the collective themselves. Above their creative kinship or shared taste is friendship, which you can feel in how effortlessly the voices of group members Bladee and Ecco2k blend together on their new project, Crest. The collaborative album has been steeping for several years now—its first single, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” is almost a time capsule, a track released to a very different pre-pandemic world in February 2020. Crest was recorded together with producer Whitearmor while stowed away in a cabin on the beaches of Sweden, not too far from where Ingmar Bergman filmed the famous scene where a knight plays chess with Death in The Seventh Seal.

That kind of existentialism associated with Ingmar Bergman, whether informed by Lutheran guilt or a more layered Zen understanding, seeps through every beat and bar of Crest. Though not quite religious, Crest plays with the iconography of heaven, angels, and ectoplasmic intelligence, building a spirit world that exists beyond dogmas or deities. In almost every song, there is a yearning for some greater beauty beyond the self, a kind of connection that can only be found within the convocation of a rave or the transcendence of the afterlife; on “Faust,” Ecco cries, “I want to live in heaven/I wanna reach closer to you.” Straight-up pop is nothing new for Drain Gang, but songs like “White Meadow” reach new heights, a kind of euphoria that can best be described as movie-climax music.

While the conception of a seraphic realm feels Christian, the philosophical approach taken is more Buddhist. Bladee and Ecco are all-too-aware of the pitfalls on the road to self-improvement, falling into traps of materiality and vanity; as one track bluntly puts it, “Desire Is a Trap.” At the core of the quest for ascension, there’s still an emptiness, a desire for beauty and perfection that can evolve into covetousness—the group’s hesitancy to foreground their own faces makes sense given the frequent lyrical yearning for a different life and self. Mantras are central to Bladee and Ecco’s approach to songwriting, as words shift and transform into one another through a kind of spiritual looping; “Yeses (Red Cross)” begins with Bladee repeating the words “Literal Christ, literal Crest” and ends with Ecco’s tongue-twister refrain of “Sex sells/Success/Yes, yes.”

And where most Drain Gang songs are short subliminal blips, “5 Star Crest (4 Vattenrum)” is an odyssey that stretches out over nine minutes. Whitearmor sprinkles in an audio tag of the word “Perfect”—a voice that sounds when you finish a game in Street Fighter 2 without taking any damage, but likely more familiar at this point from the Charlie Heat remix of Kanye’s “Facts.” What might just be a DJ drop in another context here becomes another mantra, a single word that encapsulates Drain Gang’s desire for wholeness and completion. The beat switches multiple times, a living and fluid pop organism that’s constantly mutating—at each segment, Ecco and Bladee lead us in a series of refrains that reach its climax with a flurry of jingle bells as Bladee intones, “Death is beautiful, give it to me raw,” before rhetorically inquiring, “We think we exist, that’s why we suffer, do we not?”

Bladee and Ecco find beauty in the gateways, not just in their tendency to exist between genres, but a belief expressed in their lyrics that loss and uncertainty offer the potential for radical transformation and change. The sentiments are stunningly direct, almost universalized in a way that’s not entirely dissimilar from Carly Rae Jepsen’s infinitely relatable crushing, even if the image Drain Gang has developed is intentionally obscured and distant: blurry photos with faces obscured by hair, their on-stage presence silhouette by fog and flashing lights, and their elusive and infrequent media profiles.

In their own style and presentation, Bladee and Ecco foster an image that’s androgynous and almost cherubic, and at times even outright feminine—perhaps most blatantly in a song like “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” which obviously nods to Cyndi Lauper’s anthem about the existential femme condition. Bladee and Ecco’s twin falsettos twist and wrap together, gently Auto-Tuned and cooing, a chorus of angels over a driving synth-pop firmament. Drain Gang’s sound and lyrics alike frequently channel the spirit realm, summoning ghosts and angels, transporting the listener to a place where there are no bodies, only voices. Maybe heaven is a place where no one has a gender, where we are free of the confines of identity or genre, finally able to exist as fluidly and endlessly as the beams of light at a rave.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Bladee / Ecco2k - Crest Music Album Reviews Bladee / Ecco2k - Crest Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on March 30, 2022 Rating: 5


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