Zak Arogundade Gaterud, more commonly known as his stagename Ecco2k, is a musician, model, director, and designer raised in Stockholm, Sweden. He is a member of the music collective Drain Gang consisting of Bladee, Ecco, Thaiboy Digital, and producer Whitearmor. Despite only having two official projects released over his decade long music career, Ecco2k is my favorite within the Drain Gang collective. His work feels intimate and charming, providing an insight into his own unique perspective on the world. His discography consists of the album ℮ and an EP called PXE (pronounced "pixie").

Ecco2k's debut 2019 album, simply entitled ℮, is one of my favorite albums of all time. The project as a whole feels mesmerizing and hazy, which is accompanied by Ecco's characteristically soft and ethereal-sounding falsetto and vulnerable and introspective lyrics about his struggles with his self-image, identity, and ketamine addiction. He starts the album off with the longest track, AAA Powerline, a four-minute song repeating the same lyrics over and over again, describing a ketamine overdose experience.

Crushing rocks with Oyster Card
So nauseous, can't sleep it off
Backseat of some car
Zip-tied up, can't move my arms

Often, users of ketamine report feeling as if they're stuck in a sort of "time loop" on higher doses. The almost nauseating repetitiveness of the lyrics forces you to be stuck there with him, whether you like it or not. Making this the first track is a bold decision, as it can be hard to enjoy upon first listen if you aren't prepared to fully immerse yourself in the album. It sets a good tone for the rest of the album, forcing you into Ecco2k's mental state.

One of my favorite tracks, Fragile, features a steady and slow beat, reminiscent of a heartbeat. Layered with droning synths and ethereal vocalizations, the song creates a lethargic and dreamlike atmosphere. This song is a good example of the different themes of the album and how they intersect together. In the song, he laments his fragility, mentally and physically:

I'm glassy, shattered, wrapped in bubble plastic
I'm fragile, wash my hands in gasoline
Matches and kerosene, please handle me carefully

His vocal delivery is slow and deliberate, and occasionally the beat stops at random, giving the listener an uneasy anticipation. I interpret this as heart palpitations, a common side effect of ketamine abuse. It gives the song a slight edge and reiterates his fragile condition from daily drug abuse. He even references this himself later in the song with the lines,

My racing heart, it stops and starts
Breaks apart and paints the walls

Moreover, the track aligns with one of the recurring themes in ℮ and Ecco2k's music as a whole: his struggles with self-image, partly stemming from his experience of growing up black in Sweden, a country with minimal racial diversity, with an estimated 3% of the population being black. He mentioned in an interview that he used to avoid going out in the sun so his skin wouldn't get any darker.

Skin, bone and sun lotion,
Skin tone like Diet Cola