Equipto has been a staple of the Bay Area hip hop scene since the late ‘90s, and over the years he’s worked with artists like Dregs One, Andre Nickitina, Opio, White Mic, and The Architect, just to name a few. His most recent album came just last year, when he teamed up with Brycon to make Can’t Stay Perched All the Time. Now he’s back with a new solo EP, Equinox.

When an artist has been around for as long as Equipto has, and he’s been so consistent over the years, you might think you have him figured out. He just dropped a full-length album last year, and now he’s dropping an EP, which seems like it was meant to tide folks over until his next big project is ready. It’s probably five pretty standard tracks, something that’s solid, but not his best work. At least this is the way it usually goes. That is, until you press play on Equinox, and you discover that this old dog has learned some new tricks. Equinox is far and away the most experimental project we’ve ever gotten from Equipto, with the project leaning much more in the instrumental direction than ever, and with only one of the five songs coming in at under five minutes. Equipto is taking these West Coast beats and he’s infusing them with a mix of psychedelic and jazz fusion, creating these expansive soundscapes that you can really get lost in, and then just dropping these lyrical gems here and there to get your mind racing. The only straightforward hip hop track on the EP is “Frida’s Song,” a touching tribute to his daughter. The rest of the EP are these abstract visions like “The Last Dance With That Moon,” and “Courage From Coltrane,” songs that you really have to sit with and just enjoy the ride the first time through and let everything sink in.

Equinox is an ambitious project from an artist in Equipto who could have easily just phoned it in and given us some solid Bay Area raps. Instead, Equipto challenged himself and his listeners to think outside the box, and the result is one of his most exciting releases to date.