Frank Ocean ‘Channel Orange‘ album review
As I arrived at Sarns studio in Ladbroke Grove to listen to Frank Ocean’s new album ‘Channel Orange’, I realised how excited I was to hear his new album. It rekindled the moments of anticipation I had as a child for music and the excitement of finally being able to hear it. Unfortunately, the Internet, wack artists, poor label signings, Twitter artists and other aspects have killed that part of the music for me but hey, that’s another story.
Frank Ocean is a musical genius in my mind. I have no doubt about this. He’s made this album with no rules; his artistry is completely on another level and when you listen to it, the overall sound and vibe makes you feel like you’re in the 60s or 70s. There’s no current sound or trend in this album. What’s so unique about Frank is that his music literally puts you in a trance; the ambiance it creates makes you feel like you’re not on this planet at times. Heck, you feel like you’re in space.
I have the feeling Frank Ocean hasn’t listened to a radio in years because this album has no real radio songs. It doesn’t sound like anything played on radio in decades. It’s Frank Ocean doing Frank Ocean. I must note, with the way the first project was handled you get the vibe that the record label has left Frank to get on with it this time. With all my chat out of the way, let’s get into the album. I’ve struggled to review it as I’ve enjoyed it so much that I wasn’t always able to put my thoughts down clearly.
‘Channel Orange’ is 17 tracks long with a few skits along the way, but the most important thing to me was having the opportunity to listen to music with no interruptions. We all had to hand in our phones at the reception to protect the album from possible leaks. We then sat in the studio with no phone, laptop etc to distract us. Our job was set to review the music and review the music alone.
As ‘Channel Orange’ started to play, it also dawned on me that we rarely listen to music in a ‘proper’ environment. We go onto YouTube or chop it up to get our favourite selection but this session gave me the chance to experience the original format of listening to music; in the studio, played all the way through with no skipping or talking. We just soaked up the music.
The second track off the album is a song which has already done the rounds: ‘Thinking About You’ but this time round it’s the re-worked version. We all know this song well and I just love the way Frank is so descriptive with the lyrics but it’s really the falsetto that makes this song what it is. Again it has the instrumentation that makes you feel like you’re in a trance at times and that’s the theme for this album, believe me.(Listen below)
It starts off with an interesting introduction, with Frank uttering the words: “Spending too much time alone”. At this point, I was already struggling with my review skills, as I was put in a trance-like state of ambiance by his vocals and instrumental composition. You feel like you’re by the ocean (no pun intended) whilst listening to this track.
This song right here is authentic Frank Ocean. It’s one of my favourite tracks on ‘Channel Orange’. Frank starts by describing and creating an ambiance with his words that are very descriptive and makes you feel you are on a journey. It has an old school jazz vibe with piano and Frank uses quirky lines that when out of context, won’t sound like they make sense but when you listen, they fit perfectly. For example: “Why see the world when you got the beach” or “My TV ain’t HD, that’s too real”. I know you are thinking:
‘What the heck does that mean, Amaru?!’ I’m not even sure, but I can definitely tell you that this song is dope!(Listen below)
The album continues with another skit: ‘Not Just The Money’, which is random but Frank is a random genius.
Super Rich Kids
Frank débuted this track for the first time in London at XOYO. The album version features Earl Sweatshirt who adopts a slow, plodding flow that coincides with the drum beat. I’m not too up on Earl Sweatshirt. He did OK on the track but I wasn’t blown away by what he had to say either.(Listen below)
Again, ambiance is key to this song. You feel like you’re on a plane with sounds of taking off and landing all keyed in between the song. Frank describes his emotions with the concept of flying and the outro is the actual landing of a plane. It’s odd but it works!
Frank seems like he’s describing the usage of crack or more so, the environment in which crack is found. It takes different angles almost as if Frank is singing like he is the crack rock and drawing you into the cause and effect on a wider scale. There are references to what people do to get that fix and a couple barbs at the police in it too. The beat is really spaced out. I like this song; it’s creative genius once again.
Throw that musical rule book out the window, listen to the track below and come to a conclusion yourself.(Listen below)
‘Lost’ evokes a 70s and hippy-esque vibe. The beat is fast with an aggressive tempo full of kicks and snares. Frank sings about being: “lost in the thrill of it all”.
We then come to an interlude with John Mayer. There’s no singing, just instruments.
I enjoyed this song. It’s almost cinematic. Frank seems to be pleading to his inner self on a judgemental world and its belief systems but he also tackles matters of the heart, impassionedly singing: “It’s a bad religion to be in love with someone who can never love you.”
This is another track that Frank débuted in London’slate last year. Andre 3000 features with not 1, but 2 typically stellar verses.(Listen below)
The song has already been released online. (Listen below)
Overall, I loved this album and I can’t wait to purchase it. @MrAmaru