Emerging from that place where hip-hop slurs into ambience and where rap is just a hypnogogic mumble, is Delaware (US) based MC/producer ZekeUltra - who excels in warped and worn beats and woozy, near ambient textures, over which he declaims his truth. Ultra's intelligent, introspective rhymes are at turns heartbroken and confessional, anomic and brooding, sometimes resigned, at other times optimistic, with a healthy dose of humour to prevent the narrative from traversing too dark a path. The delivery is muddied and beneath the surface, drawling in and out of view and shy of any thug braggadocio.
Production duties on all but three tracks are handled by prodigiously talented Idaho (US) resident Yonqi, whose beautiful, hauntological loops and understated beats give the album a smoky, downtempo feel throughout. A gorgeous swirl of hazy, jazz-tinged electronica in miniature. The apparent disconnect (if only on initial spins) between the warm, soul-inflected samples and Ultra's laconic and unadorned delivery is what makes the record so special. Feels like someone rapping in their kitchen as a Madlib record plays in the next room, regularly hitting the perfect flow.
'(The Power Of) The Will Of Man' is no quick audio fix for impatient ears. This is a record to climb into and explore. To absorb its genre-blurring grooves, where half-speed, deep soul samples meet haunting, electronic textures, underpinned with cavernous subby bass and sparsely abstract beat constructions. It's where Leyland Kirby meets Earl Sweatshirt, or the Jazzy Sport crew bump up against Ghost Box, all dug from the crates and knowingly vintage. A record of twilit soul splinters, fuzzy jazz cuts and enigmatic, stoned incantations. Effortlessly beautiful music for fans of the downbeat.