Pitchfork (Website) - "Gonjasufi's CALLUS is an album that's disorienting at its catchiest, harrowing at its ugliest, and more than willing to run both of those modes at the same time."
Audio Mixer: Gonjasufi.
Photographer: Timothy Saccenti.
Arriving six years after his widely acclaimed debut A Sufi and a Killer and four years after mini-album MU.ZZ.LE, Callus is the third studio album from eclectic, shamanic vocalist/producer Gonjasufi (Sumach Ecks). As with his previous releases, the album is a heady, incredibly trippy blend of psychedelic rock, dub echo, Afro-punk, and severely bugged-out hip-hop, spearheaded by his own unmistakable vocals. While his debut was entirely produced by the Gaslamp Killer, Mainframe, and Flying Lotus, his subsequent works have seen him drift away from the California beat scene. Callus was entirely self-produced, and by the time of its 2016 release, Ecks was reportedly living in a van outside a shopping center in Washington, D.C. Further removed from any sort of happening scene than ever before, Callus feels more like a product of Ecks' own personal vision than his prior recordings. The album seems to avoid using samples (if they're present, they're very cleverly disguised), and the only guest musician credited is the Cure co-founder Pearl (formerly known as Porl) Thompson, who adds atmospheric guitars to several tracks, such as the new wave-influenced single "Vinaigrette." The song is easily one of the album's most upbeat moments, as most of the material favors brutally slow, bashed-out drum beats that trudge along at a snail's pace, loosely framing the raw, lo-fi basslines and dirty, barely functioning guitars. Ecks' lyrics are resistant, shakily declaring "don't tell me what to believe in because we don't believe in you" on "Afrikan Spaceship" and railing against corporations on the aptly titled "Krishna Punk." On "The Jinx," he advises "don't let the church hypnotize you" and confronts a "Jesus freak," over blown-out thumb pianos and bitcrushed electronic beats. While there are a few moments of hope scattered throughout the album, much of it is quite bleak, with the lengthy "Shakin Parasites" ending with paranoid shouting, leading into the satanic dream titled "Last Nightmare." Callus is the most challenging, confrontational Gonjasufi record yet, and it's also his most daring work. ~ Paul Simpson