The Dallas, TX-based hip-hop collective ESO has been slowly growing their catalog with songs that exhibit a sci-fi charm (that has since become characteristic to their sound) and fantastical soundscapes. The collective is comprised of Texas-native rappers GLDMAZE and Myles Jones, Colorado-based producer and artist LESSTHANTHREE, and Nashville-based producer Davis Yoo.
Despite their spread bases throughout the Southwest, they actually all met in the same school since the eighth grade. GLDMAZE and LESSTHANTHREE started making music together in 2017 and kept a steady pace of demos that ultimately would never release.
However, they are now on a hot streak with releases starting from June of last year, and it has culminated to this brand new project. The five-track EP starts with the ethereal “LESS,” featuring a smooth vocal performance from GLDMAZE and energetic rapping from Jones. The track itself sounds like the opening credits to a James Bond movie, and the two artists play off of each other’s lyrics well. “LESS” to me sounds like the beginning of a spiritual transformation, and the spacey production from Yoo fuels this sentiment.
My second favorite track has to be the titular “ULTRABLUE.” Jones begins the track with lyrics about hoping to have the support from listeners in the event of him getting too high. Jones’s lyrics paired with the haunting synths tell a story that is slightly disturbing as there’s a sense that Jones laments his “highness,” whether it be from drugs or clout; yet the second half of his verse feels like we are enabling his actions. GLDMAZE starts his verse with a convicted delivery that is self-aware and self-assured; but as the verse goes on, he straddles the line between positive manifestations and acceptance of the negative consequences of his choices.
All in all, ESO’s ULTRABLUE is an impressive introduction to the collective’s ethos and dynamic. It feels like the beginning of a quest with some exposition to the main characters of the narrative. That’s the best way to describe their music–main character theme music. Listening to them feels like watching a sci-fi movie, being sucked into another world of sonics and visuals. I highly recommend this project to people who enjoy Travis Scott, James Blake, and Monte Booker.