There’s good reason for letting Black EL’s new solo debut, “L_ST,” marinate a bit before making any declarative assessment. The 12-song set, which dropped as a free download in November, is the artist’s attempt to navigate a certain kind of millennial, pre-middle-age life crisis, one in which he’d rather take his time and find the right answers than exult in temporary victories. In Durkin and Victor Radz, he has the perfect production team to lead him slowly through this maze: The languorous haze of “Innanet” only grows thicker as EL burrows deeper into his thoughts over pillows of trippy drum and bass (“Am I the same person, or an insane person / Am I the same version, or just a diversion / till I blow up, do it all for 45 virgins, and that’s curtains / but do they match the drapes?”). Pathos aside, half the fun is hearing EL take risks, like weaving a sinister R&B edge into “Wave Race 64” (one of several tracks to showcase his abilities as a singer). But amid the intoxicating sounds, his earnest and honest self-appraisal — see the extended metaphor on “Fung Wah” — makes this slow-burner a pleasure to get lost in. (Out now.)
ESSENTIAL “Olde English 800,” “Fung Wah,” “Do Not Disturb”
Martín Caballero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @_el_caballero.