ULYSSES - 'Entendre'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on ULYSSES, an enigmatic new endeavor that just released their debut effort, an EP entitled ‘Entendre’ with seven new tracks. Since this project has very little social media or online presence, it is indeed forced to stand on its own two feet without any significant context from its creator. Designed to be a concept of sorts, ‘Ulysses’ is a genre-bending journey worth taking a look at. Let’s delve into it.

Tagged simply with “sex,” “drugs,” and “rock and roll,” ULYSSES’ first foray in the indie scene is one that doesn’t beat around the bush. There’s an ethereal sound to the record, a stye that has its creators comparing it to ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ That parallel is surprisingly apt, but ULYSSES has jam-packed that sound with hip hop influence as well. The first track, ‘Sputnik,’ is a wonderful excursion through fascinatingly atmospheric production and tactful hip hop lyricism.

It’s refreshing to hear an independent hip hop-focused act with such a heavy emphasis on quality composition and song structure. As an indie critic, I’m all too familiar with lackluster hip hop. ULYSSES even goes as far to further pad the atmosphere of their concept record with hauntingly beautiful interludes like ‘Entendre.’

‘Bend’ is one of the EP’s seemingly more experimental jaunts, focusing the beat largely around cascading, jittery synthesizers. The production is remarkably well done, and I love the amount of creative energy that went into scoring each of these songs. ‘Bend’ houses some sharp lyricism about relationship strife, too, but it manages to avoid cliche territory.

To a degree, ‘Fake It’ does fall victim to that stereotypical lyricism, though, and the hooks in particular are fairly unoriginal. “You basic - too good for you, let’s face it,” ULYSSES rhymes in the choruses to little weight. The musical interlude at the the two minute mark is intriguing, but the song’s lyrical content falls short of its production. It is, however, quickly redeemed by ‘Neil,’ another superb, short interlude focused around a vocal sample of Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

‘Doubts,’ a much more introspective track, is one of the better lyrical efforts on ‘Ulysses.’ The delicate piano composition elegantly backs it, and the song may stand tallest as the best song of the seven. ‘Horizon’ then ends the EP with the collection’s finest composition. The instrumentation is simply stunning. ULYSSES is in remarkable form in the EP's final two entries.

This is an EP worth picking up. It’s not perfect - it could do without ‘Fake It.’ But by and large, it’s far superior to its indie hip hop counterparts. The production and lyrical content of ULYSSES’ music screams attention to detail, which there is never enough of in this scene anymore. Given its the project's first release, one should expect more good things in the future, too. Give ‘Entendre’ a stream above and connect with ULYSSES below!