Don’t Sleep | Wrex Mason – ASCENDANT

Don’t sleep on this new album from Wrex Mason. It was released on July 31st this year. This was my first time hearing any of Wrex Mason’s work, so I didn’t really know what to expect at all. He’s a producer from Connecticut, currently based in Brooklyn, and this is the third and final entry in his “Birth Chart” series. It was a bit of a red flag for me when I realized that he had an entire series of beat tapes inspired by the pseudo-science known as astrology, but it didn’t really have a negative impact on the music itself for me. I ended up enjoying this album a lot.

As soon as the album started, I was immediately reminded of other Electronic artists such as FlyLo, Mono/Poly, and TOKiMONSTA. This project reminds me a lot of the second half of Mono/Poly’s Paramatma album, as well as Flying Lotus’ Until the Quiet Comes. The opening track is called Rising Sign, and it has a very ethereal, shiny, glimmering aesthetic that permeates the entire record. It makes me feel like I’m floating in space, surrounded by stars. This opening track is followed by Rising Sign II, which is pretty much the same instrumental, but with drums. In all honesty, these two songs didn’t need to be separated into their own tracks. I think if it was all one track it would’ve been just as good, if not better. I’m never gonna wanna listen to Rising Sign without hearing Rising Sign II immediately after, and I’m never gonna wanna hear Rising Sign II without playing Rising Sign first. If I had to choose one over the other I’d take Rising Sign II, but it’s just not really necessary to split them up in my opinion. The third track is called Water, and it once again reminds me a lot of Until the Quiet Comes. As I’ve said countless times before, I’m not great at discussing instrumentals, so I can’t offer too much insight into most of these tracks. Water is very good though. I really like this one. I feel like the title is very fitting too because it makes me think of a waterfall whenever I hear it for whatever reason. I feel like I’m at some sort of magical reservoir in which some weird shaman is performing a strange ceremony akin to a baptism. In a good way. It’s a very good song. The first real highlight for me is called Mesosphere. Honestly, I can’t even say why. I just think this shit sounds really good. It still feels like I’m floating through space. It’s a little less relaxing now though. It’s more chaotic. Maybe “floating” isn’t the correct word to use. This one is more like shooting through space. I feel like I’m flying over every country and watching life for every human unfold from a bird’s eye view. The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by Under Moon, which is one of several tracks with additional instrumentation from Elijah Fox. I think he was involved in Taylor Bennett‘s extended play from last year in some way, but I may be getting him confused with someone else. Anyway, this song it still pretty upbeat and spacey, but it feels jazzier than a lot of the preceding material. I really think Elijah Fox’s keyboard contribution added a lot to this track. Also, I haven’t mentioned this yet, but a lot of these songs switch up for the final 15 or 20 seconds, so that’s cool. This one in particular has a really nice ending. It’s a dope track. It’s followed by two of my favorite songs on the album back to back: Andromeda IX & 4th House. I think the reason I like Andromeda IX so much is just because it feels ethereal and spacey, yet upbeat and melodic at the same time. It doesn’t just feel like I’m floating in an abyss of stars. It feels like I’m at a diner in space while stoned. I feel like someone like Open Mike Eagle would kill this beat. I think I like the following track even more though. 4th House just feels like such a pretty instrumental. The guitar loop along with the relatively hard-hitting percussion and the eventual synths… Everything just comes together super well. It feels more detailed than a lot of the other instrumentals too. It’s one of the longest songs on the album, but the length is absolutely justified. I think the song is dope af. The next song I wanna talk about is the title track, Ascendant. This one is long as fuck, and it honestly probably didn’t need to be, but I don’t mind the length that much. By the time I was approaching the two and a half minute point, I literally said “why the fuck is this song so long” out loud, but it immediately started switching up, so I ate my words. This is the point at which Elijah Fox’s additional keys really snatch my attention. This shit is super jazzy, and it sounds really great. The same thing can be said about the following track, Shirley Mae, which features additional bass from RealHotWobble. Both of these tracks felt like Wrex laying down the backdrop and giving a platform for the featured instrumentalists to shine. They killed this shit. The next major highlight for me is the closing song, Borrowed Time. This is the only song on the album that features vocals. They come from Tekowa Lakica, as well as Jus Lovehall, who has apparently done work with Nu Irth in the past. Anyway, this track is the smoothest, sexiest, most soulful songs on the project. I guess that’s just what happens naturally when you’re trying to make an R&B song. The vocals on this one are actually phenomenal. The melody and lyrics are very repetitive, but it’s so fucking good that I don’t even care. I think it’s an amazing song, and easily one of the best tracks on the record.

Overall, I genuinely think this album is really goddamn great. There’s not a single track on this album that I don’t like. The project is a great length, and just varied enough to not get boring while also keeping a consistent aesthetic. Nothing feels out of place, or like a failed experiment. It sounds like he knew what he was doing. I’m really glad I checked this shit out. Again, if you’re into Electronic music in the same vein as Until the Quiet Comes or the latter half of Paramatma, I think this shit is for you. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope.

Favorite Song: 4th House
Least Favorite Song: Wisdom Cypher


Grade: B+

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