Head here to submit your own review of this album.

As one-third of New York rap outfit Raking, Sporting Life (real name Eric Adiele) has been making a name for himself for his inventive production skills. Now, three years after the group released their debut EP Wiki93, Adiele is stepping out and releasing his first proper solo album. Named after the Roland SP-555, a favorite of his and the main instrument he used in Ratking, 55 5's takes influence from the likes of Arca, Actress, DJ Rashad and Aphex Twin, and builds off the busier rhythms and spacier textures he explored on the two previous Ratking releases.

The difference though, is that without the limitations of creating music for a group effort, he's left with a little more room to stretch and explore. The combination of looped piano, frenzied breakbeats, and plucked strings on 'Triple Double No Assists' is reminiscent of Richard D. James era Aphex Twin; pulsing samples and clattering percussion locks 'Sports Nation' into a groove so repetitive that it nearly becomes disorienting until right at the end when a soulful vocal sample breaks the trance and brings it to an abrupt end. Solo projects sometimes run the risk of turning out cluttered or even heavy-handed, but 55 5's manages to bypass all of those trappings as Sporting Life experiments with different styles and textures in a way that results in something cohesive and playful. Nowhere is it more evident than on lead single 'Badd', where what sounds like several vocal loops being pitched at different speeds (in reality they are actually a manipulated drum sound) are nearly buried beneath a barrage of frenetic beats that tie together both footwork and drum & bass.

"Fan-made YouTube basketball highlight videos were a big inspiration for the project as a whole," Eric explains in a press release. "I was trying to make tracks that you could put images of athletes playing sports to, because when I watch sports set to certain music it gives me chills sometimes, or might bring a tear to my eye because of the emotion the players might be showing at the same time some ill track is playing."

It's debatable as to whether music like this would be appropriate for playing over a highlights reel, but one song that comes closest to capturing all of the adrenaline of watching an especially intense sports-related moment is 'Sopranos'. For nearly six minutes, a fragile and elegant piano quietly lingers over shuffling syncopated rhythms creating a kind of chaotic beauty that amounts to one of the more moving songs here. Unlike some solo efforts, 55 5's isn't merely a vanity project or an excuse for Sporting Life to make the kind of music he might not otherwise be able to make with Ratking. Instead, he uses it as a means to improve and expand on his already impressive abilities, and he does so without coming off as too overreaching in the process. It's one of those rare debuts that comes with seemingly fully formed ideas but also leaves plenty of room for growth.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.