He promised a dark journey. We got one.

Sumach Ecks looks like a man with a story to tell. Bearded, bedraggled, staring intently from behind haphazard dreads, his drug struggles and yoga salvation play a prominent role in the downbeat soul and reanimated hip-hop of his music. Maligned and meandering, ‘MU.ZZ.LE’ shares all of the hazy musical spirituality of his debut album,‘A Sufi And A Killer’, shifting in and out of focus with gramophone crackles and haunting introspection.

Notably shorter than its predecessor, ‘MU.ZZ.LE’ is just as rich and arresting, cataloguing Sumach’s echoes, mumbles and stumbles through an album of lethargic trip hop and uneasy paranoia. The Mojave Desert isolation is tangible, setting the dusty, starlit backdrop for Gonjasufi’s mystical power on the electrified ‘Feedin’ Birds’ - a duet played out and howled at the moon, charged like a primal scream into the darkness. Sitting alongside the lozenge-smooth beats of ‘Rubberband’ and the guttural, syncopated deadspace of ‘Venom’, the contrast between considered production and Ecks’ languid delivery are teasingly apparent.

But there’s a lot of joy to be found in the inconsistencies; where ‘The Blame’ gorgeously seeps through the way NERD’s ‘Provider’ once did, its wailing precursor ‘Skin’ hits like an Ol’ Dirty Bastard monologue. Wracked by disparate voices on a sombre endless loop, it’s bleak and unresolved, fading out to the infinite. It feels like a parallel Ecks is desperate to avoid, stitching himself into the fabric of his music no matter how bleak. He promised a dark journey. We got one.



Follow Clash: