Julio Francisco Ramos, known by the pseudonym Ceschi, has been in the music game for over a decade. On many of his previous projects, he blends rap, indie, and folk music into a unique, sonically smooth mix. As a precursor, I would recommend listening to the song “Half Mast,” or his most recent album, Broken Bone Ballads. But that’s just his origin story. Let’s jump into the action: his new album, Sad, Fat Luck.
“Lost Touch” is more than just the album’s introduction; it’s a call to adventure. The slow, dark intro rises into a heroic triumph. The subsequent track, “Jobs,” unfortunately slows the momentum. Ceschi’s rapping and singing are solid, but the autotune on his voice is almost unbearable. Listening to it reminds me of Riley listening to Thugnificient’s “Terrible in Terra Belle” in The Boondocks. There’s something there, but the autotune ruins it.
While “Jobs” might depart back to reality, the album’s title track brings us right into the action. Over an epic and expertly composed beat with modern drum patterns, Ceschi displays his true colors, sometimes rapping manically and other times showing more composure than James Bond with a martini. Like life, it’s a carefully constructed culmination of chaos. This song is an absolute rollercoaster, and it’s a wild ride.
“The Gospel,” one of the first singles released before the album, is a constant buildup, waiting for closure. His singing isn’t perfect, but it humanizes the song and the artist behind it. Having “Daybreak” sandwich “The Gospel” and “Take it All Back” is a strange choice. This warm campfire interlude is an insight into Ceschi’s heart that’s reminiscent of something off of Broken Bone Ballads. His singing chops have come a long way since “One Hundred Dragonflies.”
“Take it All Back” is a four-part odyssey, examining two different eras of punk sandwiched in between two excellent rap verses. The first verse features a cool allusion to Broken Bones’ “Forever 33.” Overall, it’s good and is definitely an experience to listen to; however, I doubt that I’m going to give it as much replay as some of the other songs on this project.
“Say No More,” the first single off the project, is the closest song on here that Ceschi has here to his roots. The vulnerable singing and quick rapping over a guitar loop reminds me of the artist who created his earlier projects. It’s one of the easiest songs on the album to listen to, which is why it’s immediately followed by one of the project’s hardest songs to listen to. Man, this album’s pacing is so weird. “Electrocardiographs” is a spoken word taken straight from his heart and his past, accompanied by a gross but somewhat ambient beat. It’s very depressing yet powerful.
To further confuse the album’s pacing, “Electrocardiographs” is followed by “Middle Earth.” The song’s chorus sounds goofy while the verses are just as personal as any other part of the album. When he raps, and he realizes he’ll “never blow up and that’s fine,” you get an insight on what Ramos is trying to do on this album. He is making what he wants to, without pressure of trying adhere to any set style or form. Ceschi’s artistic freedom is admirable, if not downright heroic.
No song better represents Ceschi’s position as a vigilante than “Sans Soleil.” The chorus is poetic, the lyrics are tragic and personal, and the beat is heaven sent. While it isn’t the most upbeat, this song is definitely one of the album’s climaxes.
Following “Sans Soleil,” the heroic vibe is brought back with “Any War,” a trumpet-filled rap free-for-all. “Downtown” is a song that should have been given to someone else. The falsetto singing sounds a little out of reach of Ramos’ wheelhouse. If “Sans Soleil” is a climax, then “Bona Drag Tape” is the aftermath. “Bona Drag Tape” is an unmasked Peter Parker walking through the streets in his hoodie, looking at screens reflect his achievement. It’s one of the album’s least daring tracks, but that’s what makes it such a welcome closer to the album.
This album is only 47 minutes, but it is filled with the feelings and sounds of a lifetime. Shelving three of the album’s 13 songs would definitely make the album more palatable, but Ramos does not want his album to be palatable. Some people are going to love this album and others are going to hate it. Throughout the many moving parts going on, one thing is consistent: Factor Chandelier’s production. This project is just as much a victory to Factor Chandelier as it is for Ceschi. FC’s ability to channel so many different vibes and beat types is downright phenomenal, from the elven rave on “Middle Earth” to the aggressive ambiance of “Electrocardiographs.” I would be remiss to not acknowledge it.
On Sad, Fat Luck, Ceschi breathes new life into everything he touches. Whether it be heroic and epic or dismal and gloomy, Ceschi knows what he wants to deliver and how to deliver it. Even if the pacing is a bit clunky, the chaos is Ceschi’s to own. Julio Ramos is the overshadowed artist that voices artistic freedom better than anyone else. If you haven’t yet listened to the album, I recommend doing so with these songs: “Sad Fat Luck,” “Sans Soleil,” “Bona Drag Tape,” “Say No More,” “The Gospel,” “Lost Touch,” and “Daybreak.”
COVER PHOTO: The Village Voice