EP Review: archon – ell!psis

After two years of releasing several sample packs and numerous singles, Chicago-based producer ell!psis has finally quelled demand for a more comprehensive release with his debut EP, archon. The EP includes 6 multi-faceted tracks full of glitchy motifs, plangent drums, and frenetic percussion.

Opening track “frenetic” evokes a certain je ne sais quoi, analogous to the excitement and fear of opening Pandora’s box. Brilliantly intricate shards of layered textures collide with reverberant bass that dissolves into trap sounds—the juxtaposition of soft and harsh elements are entrancing. The subtle drizzling noises bring the track to a close, a palette cleanser, to prepare listeners for the rapturous track that follows.

In “archon,” abrasive trap converges with elegant composition. Peripheral warm textures and echoing synths coil around unsparing percussion—the serpentine climb and clean sound architecture heard in “archon” demonstrate ell!psis’ prowess as a producer.

The following track, “fargo,” features plenty of thrumming, skewed vocals, and fluid percussion leads—it’s an amalgamation of manipulated sounds, blippy fills, and headbanging drums. Next, The Young God Kayo, also known as TYGKO, impresses with his pacing and introspective storytelling on “montrose.” The Chicago wordsmith’s lyrics are concise and emotive, touching on themes of heartbreak and determination. “Concrete, but I grew like a rose / not blooming bro, I grew like I rose,” TYGKO intones. Following the standout track is “ghost”: a track filled with glitchy riffs and seesawing blips. Naughta contributes atmospheric neuro-basses to the song, and delivers the signature neo soul production he’s notorious for.

Closing out the EP is “minutiae,” whose production is dazzling and minimalistic in comparison to previous tracks. The balmy textures that enveloped the liquid clamor heard in the rest of the EP are missing here. Sans textures, listeners are compelled to give into the alluringly distorted synthesizers driving forward in unison, performing a synchronized dance of modulated sounds. The rest of the song charges ahead with thunderous bass weaved alongside more turbulent textures.

Overall, ell!psis’s production in archon is laudable. The EP is an impressive feat for the producer, whose work continues to garner attention from venerated artists like Baauer, Tsuruda, Jon Casey, and Louis Futon. archon is an introspective, synth-driven affair, and undoubtedly one of the most interesting underground projects released this year.

Purchase archon on Bandcamp, and follow ell!psis on Spotify.

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