Lance Skiiiwalker: Tales from the Telescope
Something utterly ethereal happened in the last few weeks of 2021. Artists seemed to fall in love with the esoteric and transformed their inner most gilded purple ideas into something tangible. And I fell madly in love with all of it.
One such artist, TDE's Lance Skiiiwalker, transcribed his inner machinations into two EPs, two sides of the same coin. Thus proving that he is TDE's magician and hasn't been given the appreciation he deserves. It's no small thing to say and almost understandable. When you come from a label that housed one of the greatest lyrical minds of all time (hip hop or otherwise) and retains an entire stable of emotionally open and musically otherworldly artists, to get lost in the shuffle can seem like an inevitability.
But Skiiiwalker crashes quietly. When he wants to release something, he does so without much fanfare, but to those paying attention it's tantamount to experiencing a monsoon. He floods your senses with music that is alive and honest and straight from the mind with little filter. It makes sense, then, that he enlisted fellow free mind Nick Hakim for the project ("In the World").
That isn't to say that the music isn't meticulous. The drum patterns provide steady anchoring. While his mind's ship drifts listlessly out at sea, the heartbeat of the album moors it to the shore to keep it from getting too lost in the waves. A melodic red thread connects each song in aural theme. And the conceit works brilliantly. What are the stories we see in the stars? When we look behind the telescope, what tales do the galaxies tell? I imagine they'd sing like the melodies in these two EPs. Stars, planets and galaxies observing from their perch in the faraway heavens, getting a kick out of the minutiae of human existence while these satellites simply exist.
There's a controlled madness in everything Skiiiwalker releases. I couldn't escape the overwhelming feeling that I was being gifted something, a surprise left under the Christmas tree that I somehow missed. Tales from the Telescope is a blessing. Moving from one stream of thought to the next without flinching from the pause between EPs, it's a seamless piece of music that offers its listeners a subconscious ride into a new year.