Written by Aiden Russell (CJAM Staff)
Bladee and Ecco2k’s collaborative album, Crest, is my personal favorite album from either artist. Both Bladee and Ecco have had very versatile careers. Always evolving, despite remaining very familiar at the same time. Crest is another musical exploration, focusing more on dream pop for a powerful, otherworldly effort. I love the album cover. Bladee is normally known for strange looking avant-garde type album art. The cover for this release is… a pencil crayon picture of a cottage that Bladee drew himself.
The Flag is Raised starts off jarring as it’s very different compared to the usual Drain Gang (the collective both Bladee and Ecco belong to) releases. It’s nice, dreamy and catchy. It hits more in a standard pop direction, rather than being rooted in hip-hop like usual. It’s a good opener, but one of the weaker tracks on the album. The backing track is fairly repetitive and while the the verse about Maria is great, the start and end of the track leave a little to be desired.
Five Star Crest (4 Vattenrum) is the most ambitious Drain Gang release to date. It’s an almost nine minute song separated into five parts, sort of like Green Day’s Jesus of Suburbia. The first part sets the tone for the piece, mournful and without percussion. Part two hits more like a pop song, with a bouncy beat and upbeat melody despite the somber subject matter of the song. The 4 Vattenrum part of the title refers to a friend of Bladee and Ecco’s that passed away in 2019. The beat in part three is softer and more subdued. It sounds good but I’m not sure how much I like Ecco’s singing in this part. I don’t hate Ecco2k’s baby voice as much as some people do, but his voice here is just… weird. It’s not high pitched in his regular way – he kinda evokes Crazy Frog with the start of his verse, and not in a good way. Part four is the climax of the song – it’s a beautiful and vibrant backing track matched to Bladee’s lyrics perfectly, “beauty is my drug, I’m the pusher, push it,”. Part five isn’t that great either, but it’s meant to be a resolution rather than a climax so it works.The percussion drops out and Ecco chants “I love you,” over and over again. It’s fitting thematically, but it doesn’t sound that pleasing to the ear on top of being a solid minute and a half loop of the same beat and lyrics.
White Meadow is an amazing song. It’s so tranquil and dreamy, and the singing styles of both Bladee and Ecco2k beautifully compliment the beat. The whole song is great, but Ecco’s last verse where his vocals are all chopped up is almost the best part of the album, just barely beat out by…
Faust is my favorite track on this album by a good margin. I love the beat. It makes great use of synth brass and bell sounds to make you feel like you’re walking on air when you listen to it. I love Ecco’s chorus, I love Bladee’s verse, I really love Ecco’s verse. I could go as far as calling this my favorite Drain Gang song.
Yeses (Red Cross) is the album’s glaring weak spot. Ecco’s verse is lovely as usual, but the song is really repetitive. The beat and Bladee’s constant murmuring of “Yes” does little to save the song. It’s also a really long song for how little happens during it, especially compared to the previous song. Faust is a full minute shorter, but is a much more complete musical journey.
Desire Is a Trap is a good song. It doesn’t quite hit the highs of White Meadow and Faust, but it’s another catchy and peaceful number. It’s got a strong energy, yet is mellow and relaxing.
Chaos Follows is another strong song on the album. Bladee’s chorus is really cool and Ecco’s verse picks up right where it leaves off so smoothly. The drumline on this track is really odd and different. The use of soft crash cymbals instead of standard hip-hop claps provides a very interesting sonic dynamic.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun is the album’s lead single, dropped a whole two years before the rest of the project. This song leans into trance, with gated synths and Mickey Mouse sounding vocals from both Ecco and Bladee. Depending on your tolerance for high pitched voices, this is either the best or the worst song on the album. I personally think it’s good, but there’s many stronger songs on the album. Not that this makes it by any means bad… it just shows how powerful an album Crest is.
Heaven Sings is the perfect finale track to this album. The way Ecco sings ‘sacrificial’ at the end of the song leaves me with chills. The song title could not have been any more perfect – it’s quite literally a heavenly song that makes the listener feel like they’re actually leaving the earth for something more beautiful.
I rate Crest 9/10. An almost flawless album that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living in a heavenly dream, even when it sometimes touches upon darker subject matters.
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