|Blood Orange / Freetown Sound|
|Add Date:||2016-08-08|| ||Pull Date:||2016-10-10|| |
|Week Ending:||9 Oct||2 Oct||4 Sep||28 Aug||21 Aug||14 Aug|
genre: r&b, found sound, synth pop|
What? Muscat’s reviewing an R&B album? Well this isn’t like most R&B albums you’ve ever heard. Freetown Sound patches together genres, samples, and songwriting techniques from all over the place, creating an immersive, beating world of a record. Blood Orange completely eclipses his previous output here. This is a longform statement along the lines of Channel Orange and To Pimp A Butterfly (ok a little bit of hyperbole, but it’s no accident that I’m mentioning these all in the same breath). Ambitious yet personal; political yet intimate. Some might hear disjointedness, but I hear creative audacity. Well worth a listen.
Others: Frank Ocean, Dean Blunt [I know this seems weird but his deep register sounds like Blunt to me, and they actually approach similar themes with not dissimilar aesthetic styles], Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Sly and the Family Stone, Neon Indian, The Avalanches
Favorites: 4, 6, 11, 9, 7, 1, 5, 10, 12, 15, 16. FCC 3, 8, 14
1. (2:12 ) **** By Ourselves - Cool field recordings + detuned piano. Really cinematic. Spoken word about feminism. Strong strong opening statement
2. (3:51) ** Augustine - Silky smooth chillwavey rnb buoyed by a drum machine beat. Deep spoken vocals leap up into a high hazy register for the chorus. The bridge really makes this song.
3. (2:49) Chance - FCC Broken funk drum beat—all stark angles. Lush vocals. Unfortunately there’s a bunch of FCCs....otherwise an awesome track.
4. (3:46) ***** Best to You - Ok folks here’s the showstopper. Vocal feature from pop queen Empress Of + cello flourishes + super catchy melody. Kate Bush feel almost? Anyway it doesn’t matter because this is one of the best tracks of 2016.
5. (1:25) *** With Him - Just an interlude but I really dig it. Jazzy, exploratory. Play this as a lead up to the next one!
6. (5:44) **** E.V.P. - Cool tape rewind intro before it swivels into an awesome funk groove. Midway through gets all wild and weird with stereo effects and samples and drum breaks. THIS IS SICK.
7. (2:48) *** Love Ya - Sparkling synths...light pad. Nice group refrain. Really interesting, spacey, track. Spoken sample fades in and out. Killer saxophone. Interesting transition to piano ballad and female vox. More experimentation at the end with Ta-Nihisi Coates sample and ghostly throwback to track 5.
8. (3:01) But You - FCC Oh boy this is the real dud for me on the album. It sounds like a 90’s theme song I had forgotten but accidentally overheard at the mall and now I can’t get it out of my head. Avoid.
9. (3:01) **** Desirée - Yes yes we’re back in the groove...we’ve got some gold-flecked keyboard...great bass support...interesting textures. Random spoken clip but hey it works!
10. (4:09) *** Hands Up - Awesome, punchy track about police violence. Touching (in my opinion), unique approach to the issue. Samples cries of “Don’t Shoot” and Vince Staples talking at the end—fascinating musical connection because Vince has an amazing track also called Hands Up.
11. (3:44) *** Hadron Collider - High distant vox from Nelly Furtado. She then leaps into the foreground accompanied by nimble percussion. Beautiful piano coalesces into strong chords before returning to our initial beat + chorus.
12. (3:37) ** Squash Squash - Beat begins and falters. Ghostly, just out of earshot field recording. Really cool reworking of track 5. Little DJ turntable action at the end.
13. (4:36) ** Juicy 1-4 - Sweet hand percussion and weightless ambience. This track has some funk to it. Whoa rapid fire vocals. Spiritual.
14. (3:17) Better Than Me - FCC Mmm twinkly synth arpeggios. Fast fast pace. Spoken vocals by Carly Rae Jepsen of all people. I actually really love this, buuuuuuuut there’s a super brief FCC at 0:30. Could fade up after that!
15. (3:04) ** Thank You - Loping beat, saxophone. Lovely jazz chords. Another good song...laid-back compared to some of the denser tracks. More radio/tape play and De La Soul sample.
16. (4:35) I Know - Beginning of song is all soothing synthesizers and smooth vox. Suddenly gets a phaser effect going and a clicky drum machine beat. Pretty piano outro. Peels back layers for the ending.
17. (3:01) Better Numb - Simple melody and bare guitar. Some field recording in the periphery. Analog synth takes over for the guitar. Honestly a kind of strange final track, but it fits into the general experimentation of the album. In the last minute he calls back to the repeated lines throughout the album. Flips around the radio dial a bit more then cuts cold.