ESSEX + TITAN SQUAD – “TITAN777” ALBUM REVIEW [Wave]

TITAN777 is a very special album. It’s a well-conceived, exquisitely produced record with many textures and fascinating layers. And it takes you on a journey.

Let’s pan out for a second. In the bios of point man Essex’s Bandcamp and Facebook pages, you will find a quote from T.S. Eliot’s poem “East Coker”. The second of Eliot’s Four Quartets, it’s a sequence of meditations on man’s relationship with time, the universe, and the divine.

Yes, I’m getting this from SparkNotes.

In “East Coker” Eliot is telling himself to be patient and to expect a difficult road to awareness. It’s a journey made even more lonely because he isn’t just traveling without friends, he can’t even travel with their ghosts.

I researched all of this after listening to TITAN777. You don’t need to know any of this to get the best out of the album, but I was struck how well the themes of “East Coker” mesh with it.

However, Essex isn’t alone on TITAN777. It’s an epic collaboration featuring members of their associated TITAN SQUAD. They include CAT/, SH1N, MXKEHXLL, UNIT333, and more.

But as listeners, it’s easy to imagine ourselves being very much alone on this road. This is because, while it doesn’t carry an explicit theme, TITAN777’s compositions, samples, and lyrics paint a vivid picture.

On Bandcamp, TITAN777 is tagged as “Witch house.” What’s interesting is that this album changes up some of the genre’s aesthetics. Essex isn’t leading us through deep woods, towards a dilapidated mansion brooding amongst dry, long-dead trees. They’re leading us through deserted streets, down alleyways and into the darkest corners of a broken city.

“KRXXPN” (featuring WRCKTNGL) sets the scene with distant echoes, which give way to a hard beat and a thick, brooding reese bass. It’s pretty hard and carries tones that blare like hurricane klaxons. It’s dark and penetrating in the best way possible.

“VANITY” is hard grime, riding in on a hail of gunfire. It’s the first of several tracks Raziah Jones appears on. Their flow is great. They rage in your face, they’re tested but there’s a vulnerability underlining their strength, as “Leave me alone” repeats over and over near the end.

“777BLDEE” is TITAN777’s most compelling moment. It straddles both witch house and future garage, without being constrained by them. It opens with signal noise, before the drop ushers in another rich reese. There’s skittering beats, epic high tones, and an ethereal, paranormal aura.

I mentioned “Deserted streets” earlier. “777BLDEE” is where I got this from. You’re walking between skyscrapers, but your eyes remain down. You know the sun is up, but you can’t escape the pavement. You’re dimly aware of the sterile world around you, but your mind is dwelling on what’s haunting you.

Interestingly, the video for “777BLDEE” features beach scenes, forests, and a young woman smiling. Yet these idyllic scenes are broken by flashes of occult symbols and ominous figures caught on dark, grainy stock. I saw the video after I’d listened to the album, and I was struck how well this video captured what I’d felt.

What’s haunting you are visions of a better place and time. But like you, they’re corrupted.

TITAN777 gets more varied as it rolls on. There’s the satisfying hard wave jungle of “ASH”. The LILLITH TWIN style dream punk of “LIES”, and the stomping drum ’n’ bass of “FACE2FACEE”.

“FACE2FACEE” reminded me of Prodigy’s “Out Of Space” if it was given the full witch house treatment. Layers mount in the mix, ratcheting up the tension without snuffing out the energy. Sounds reminiscent of radar pings kick in, as if something sinister is drawing nearer and nearer.

“FACE2FACEE” really gets you moving. In fact, I wonder if we can use it to promote the term “witch bass.” I don’t think anyone’s claimed that yet.

TITAN777 ends with “DEAD LIGHT”. It’s heavy ambient, with emotive autotune trap soul vocals. It’s still pretty dark, but there’s a sense of a road’s end being reached. The city is at your back and your eyes finally turn to a sun they’ve ignored for far too long.

There is a lot more I could say about TITAN777. Which is awesome because it’s not that long. Around 30 minutes total. But it provokes so many emotions, and conjures up such rich imagery. I am very, VERY excited to see where Essex and the TITAN SQUAD lead us next.

You can find Essex here:

Bandcamp

SoundCloud

Twitter

Facebook

 

An extended edition of the album is available on TITAN’s SoundCloud.

TITAN on Twitter.

 

May 26th: Essex will be hosting a live stream festival on their Twitch channel. Details can be found here.

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