Almost two years ago Gonjasufi, aka Sumach Ecks, graced us with a kaleidoscopic hour of psychedelic brilliance on his début A Sufi And A killer. Ecks’ raspy vocal acrobatics found a deft dance partner in the humidified, retro-progressive production of cohorts Gaslamp Killer, Mainframe, and Flying Lotus which entangled listeners into a world of humidified hip-hop, psych rock, dub, and temporal folk that maybe only understood, in contemporary practice, by Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hungtai. Back in October, Ecks returned as Gonjasufi with a free, four track jaunt into his unreleased personal stock titled 9th Inning EP which touched less on the heady side of his throat and and more on the spit.
For his recent lil’ LP MU.ZZ.LE, Ecks employs himself and producers Psychopop and Angelo Arce to concoct the dubby, vinyl-psych comprising the new effort half as long and half as diverse as his début. We find Ecks descending further down the rabbit hole, unable to pull himself out of the Robitussin swamps consuming his voice and spirit. “Venom,” and “Skin” have the ability to root themselves under your skin and leave a lasting impression–much like “Ancestors” and “Kobwebz” off the début– but they lack the arch and reprieve that plays so well with his stretch of vocal abilities. It’s as though Ecks has lost his moxie (expressed on the realm conquering stompers of A Sufi And A Killer “Kowboyz & Indians” and “Dednd”) somewhere in a mirage of the guilts–a mortifying state of reflection fixated on a temporary lapse into devolution. This mentality is exploited in the best possible way, though, when Ecks’ wife April provides the greatest hook of the album with the resonating swell “Breaking Bread/Making Dough/Feed The Birds/Save Your Soul” on “Feedin’ Birds.”
The Las Vegas heat, where Ecks calls his home, is ever-present on MU.ZZ.LE, but it’s almost suffocating to a point of discouragement. Even with the acid-psych of “White Picket Fence” and “Blaksuit,” there’s a defeatist attitude, as though he’s unable to prance in his sorrow like on his former '60s candy tracks “She Gone” and “I’ve Given.”
Despite the overall feel of a dunk in the doldrums, MU.ZZ.LE will bode well with Gonjasufi fans, avid Pitchfork readers, and hip-hop producers which will keep it alive until we get a another “big” LP from Sufs.