Sometimes there’s small discrepancies in music that make a huge difference. The details differentiate the good from the bad, and they might not seem to matter during the process of making the music, but the final result will ultimately suffer if they’re not paid that attention.
This is a huge factor in most bedroom projects – someone making music alone in their room, whether it be on a guitar, piano, or computer. There’s a line between having fun and releasing something others might find worth listening to.
Chicago-turned-Champaign producer Ekoli (Eli Harris) trips up a lot with his latest Bummer Summer Expedition 5000 EP, but there seems to be some promise underneath what turns out to be a forgettable release.
There’s nothing jarring on this release, it’s just in one ear and out the other. That’s not to say there’s nothing bad on it, though. “Marijuana” could be created by anyone with a short span of patience to organize it on the computer. The space-y track really goes no where, never offers anything new, and comes off more like an artist getting his first experimentation with a new toy to fiddle around with rather than an artist who put time into a well-written track.
There’s also some painful moments when Ekoli emcees over his beats. There’s things on Ekoli’s mind – that’s clear throughout the EP. But articulating them is another story. On “Strange Landz,” there’s anger and concern in the lyricism, but not in the inflection. There’s no emotion behind the words to tell you he means any of it. Instead, it detracts from the message, and that nervousness behind the mic makes you second-guess the sincerity behind it all.
At the end of “Lunar Baby,” Ekoli begins to implement his voice again, but it’s so nervously mixed to the point where you can barely hear the lines. Yet when you do, you get fed forgetful lines like, “I can take you to the moon.” With some confidence and lyrical effort, there’s room for vocal melodies throughout the EP – whether it’s rapping or some in-and-out hooks that pop up here and there to push a track over the edge from good to great.
But to go from good to great, you need to be good. Ekoli’s use of a melodic synth in “Sweet Love Part I” is good. His use of jazz-driven production is good, especially on the closing track “Kah Rin” – an insanely beautiful track that’s so catchy and perfectly humble that if the whole EP were like this, it would find its way into a lot – a lot – of ears. This track might be worth sifting through the first six tracks of Bummer Summer for, but that’s arguable.
Good things take time, though – sometimes a long time. At the end of “Kah Rin,” Harris repeats over and over, “I keep fallin’ / can’t catch myself,” and there’s no way you can root against him. You can only hope the next release is as thought out as this one’s final track, and not its six predecessors.