Canadian bass music producer Ekali has made a solid name for himself over the past few years. Demand for the producer’s eclectic taste and high energy live shows has thrust him into EDM fame.
But his talent has always hinted at more than just catchy singles and bass-heavy performances. The Pacific Northwest-native had been teasing a full-length album for a while. As of January 24th, he has finally delivered it in the form of A World Away. Before Ekali kicks off his album tour in Seattle next week, we did a deep dive into his latest release.
DMNW reviews A World Away
A World Away taps a handful of rising talents, such as up-and-coming vocalist Au/Ra, Reo Cragun (a Washington-native), and platinum-selling singer Kiiara. We also get to hear production collaborations with Nitti Gritti, mossy. (who collaborated on Ekali’s Crystal Eyes EP), and resident sad boy Illenium.
Opening the album is Fairy Tale, featuring producer and singer-songwriter Elohim. Offering one of the most enchanting lyrical and vocal performances on the album, Elohim compliments Ekali’s atmospheric production perfectly. Her voice carries the song to its full potential, setting the slight melancholic tone for the rest of the album.
Considering Ekali’s meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years, it would seem he truly is living a life of fairy tales. At the same time, the song is a reminder to embrace the inherent magic in all of our lives. Surprisingly, Ekali claims that this song came together just a week before the album was released! Pretty crazy considering it is arguably the best song on the album.
This song came together about a week before my album was due, and is my favorite on the album. Elohim is one of my favorite vocalists to work with, and I really wanted her voice to shine on this song. pic.twitter.com/wZxnXd7EUd
— Ekali ? (@EkaliMusic) January 16, 2020
All of the songs containing vocals are powerful in their own right. Each vocalist contributes their characteristic flows enhanced by catchy lyrics that manage to avoid being cliche. That being said, we can’t escape the fact that Ekali as a sole producer is who we really want to hear. Fortunately, some of his most emotionally charged songs are actually the instrumentals.
No words, just music
Purely instrumental tracks are peppered all throughout A World Away. They act as serene segues between vocal-driven songs and are also demonstrations of Ekali’s ability to speak his heart and mind in his own way. The three-track block consisting of Cage, Faithless, and Power represent quintessential Ekali-style bass music. In fact, Ekali notes that Faithless is a follow-up to his much older, double platinum track Unfaith, which is the first many of us heard from him.
This song is a follow up to my song from 5 years ago, “Unfaith.” To me it represents the feeling of self doubt and the process of overcoming that feeling. pic.twitter.com/vde0eS5eXy
— Ekali ? (@EkaliMusic) January 18, 2020
Tracks like Flow Through Me seem to draw influence from something out of a Porter Robinson or San Holo song. And Braids taps into something deeper with its ambient voice samples and a soundscape evoking images of skittering lights traveling through crystals. Legend has it that Ekali conceived of that one while thinking of his girlfriend during a psychedelic experience.
This is one of my favorite songs on the album… I really pushed my production skills to the limit and tried to fit something truly epic into three minutes. pic.twitter.com/9mUZpYKt1S
— Ekali ? (@EkaliMusic) January 19, 2020
Those looking for a reprieve from Ekali’s more melodic machinations should look no further than Power. Easily the heaviest-hitting song on the album, Power is a loaded two-drop banger that goes hard in deep, air-whipping fashion. Over Twitter, Ekali details the origin of the song, claiming that it started with Nitti Gritti passing over a demo of the drop which Ekali spliced together with an intro he had previously created.
Nitti Gritti sent me a demo of this big bass tune that I loved… I had this epic intro written in another session of mine that worked perfectly with it, and so we combined both songs into an epic tune that ended up being the heaviest song on the record. pic.twitter.com/njR1r37QWA
— Ekali ? (@EkaliMusic) January 17, 2020
Drift into A World Away
Most of the tracks on A World Away run under three minutes, so Ekali’s debut album is short and sweet. While a few songs tend towards the pop music end of the spectrum, they are nonetheless memorable and feature emotionally resonant lyrics and melodies.
For his first full-length album, Ekali managed to demonstrate his ability to stay consistent and cohesive. Every song sounds skillfully refined and intentional. It’s very apparent that Ekali poured his soul into this, which is all that we expect from artists of superb talent! Find yourself drifting into A World Away by streaming the full album below:
Hear A World Away live
What’s a new album release without an album tour? Pacific Northwest fans are in for a treat as Ekali is set to play two back-to-back shows in Seattle next week! On February 6th and 7th, Ekali will be showcasing his new album at the Showbox. After that, he’ll be making a stop in his hometown of Vancouver, BC on the 8th. Make no mistake that the first three dates of his tour will be special.
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