The problem with writing about Esseks — and particularly the Brooklyn-based producer’s most recent album, Broken Bones (Sticks & Stones) — is that the right words to accurately describe his metaphysical, cartoon villain-y sound just kinda don’t exist.
The Wakaan-produced project is packed with mind-melding melodies and brain-hopping beats; the type of shit that will have you Bernie-ing even though it’s kind of outdated, because you actually were killed and brought back to the life by Sam Eckstein’s low-end flow. Tracks like MissingNo. and the otherworldly Spookyboy (which, when the EP was originally conceived as two separate entities, were on the Stones side) show off sharp synth work woven into finely-tuned hip-hop influenced headbangers.
On the Sticks side, we see a softer Esseks; not necessarily downtempo, but these tracks give off a really enjoyable range of both steez and raw emotion. Pigeon Toes is a personal favorite — it’s got that vibe where you put your arm over your buddy’s shoulder at the show and shout, “Homies for fuckin’ life!” at them over the music, as they dodge the tears or spit most-likely flying from your mouth.
I pretty much made all these songs after a time where I was putting a weird pressure on myself to make a certain kind of sound and was feeling really constrained. This was me saying fuck it and just going with what felt right in the moment while I was making it and not worrying about what would come out. Just having fun and trying to enjoy the process again without overthinking it. – Sam Eckstein
The album is a testament to Esseks’ musical development. His second release of 2017, since the April release of his oh-so funky Cartoon Violence, Broken Bones brings massive compositions to the table, held together with hypnotic themes and mesmerizing atmospheres. Even without the right words, it would be accurate to say, “shit’s pretty lit.”