A7PHA is the duo consisting of doseone and Mestizo. They first got together to release their debut self-titled LP in 2017. Now, after working on a bunch of different projects in the last few years, things have lined up again for the two artists to come back together and give us a second A7PHA album, II.

For this album, the production duties are being handled by Chicago artist Meaty Ogre, best known for his various projects on Galapagos4, with additional percussion provided by Jel, who has been working with doseone for years and years. In listening to this album, you can see what attracted doseone and Mestizo to Ogre’s beats, as he has crafted some really dreamy and psychedelic synth-driven tracks. They really twist and wind, and they are always on the verge of sounding eerie, but also remain beautiful to listen to at the same time. This sets the scene perfectly for doseone and Mestizo on the microphone, who complement each other stylistically and thematically in a way that feels like they’ve been doing this for years, not just one album five years ago. They have different flows and registers that really play well off of each other, but lyrically is where they really impress. This is because they both have a really great knack for crafting this really vivid abstract poetry that really gets your mind racing, and then landing an emotional gut punch by landing a personal line that brings you back down to Earth and makes everything feel all to real. This is all before we get to the closing track, “No Goodbyes,” a beautifully touching and vulnerable song about losing someone close to you that features some of the rawest vocals that doseone has recorded in his career.

When you have a collaborative album like the first A7PHA release, there is always a piece of you that wonders whether or not this is going to be a one-off situation, or if this is going to be a group that continues to grow and makes different projects over the years. After a five year wait, I was beginning to think that A7PHA was just a one-time thing, but then they come back in 2022 with II. In doing so, they don’t just give us any old follow up album, they give us an incredibly inventive, creative, and heartfelt album that stands up alongside the best work that either of them have done.