It is a shame to have missed the latest from Bristol-based, trip hop producer Frenic when it was actually released, but I’m pleased to have found it, if a year late.
Monomyth: Separation, as described by the artist, is the result of inspiration he had while performing in Greece. So inspired, he dug into the local culture, both musical and mythological. He pulled out vinyl and, dare I say, epic ideas for story-telling. Epic in the classical sense; grand, even heroic. Here’s the rub: in Monomyth: Separation, the hero is us. What that means is the album is best enjoyed if one can set aside some quiet time to really listen and participate.
From beginning to end, the artist immerses the listener in a cinematic, emotional, sample-based, downtempo narrative, filled with thumping bass lines, scratchy turntablism, organic instrumentation, and fresh beats. The story is book-ended and punctuated by tracks highlighting spoken commentaries on story-telling, life, society, technology, and art. In between, you’ll find tracks like “God Moves”.
“God Moves” is the first mostly-musical track on the album, and I feel like it sets the bar high. In a sentence, it is immediately and entirely energetic, but not exhausting, and employs a wide array of components, both electronic and acoustic. Guitar, shakers, tight drums, wild vinyl scratching, a heavy bass line, the soulful sample “God moves…on the earth.” All of it comes together to cast an overwhelmingly funky shadow over the rest of the album.
In this reviewer’s opinion, Monomyth: Separation rises to its own challenge.
Just one more of its many highlights, “Luiz Ville Groove” features French producer Hugo Kant. If you don’t know, Hugo Kant’s own special blend of hip-hop involves a plethora of jazz instruments, especially the flute. So, naturally, the track features the flute in abundance. With it, upright bass and drums frame the track. About halfway in, the track takes a breather before ramping up with a groovy 1960s keyboard solo, and rounding out with the instruments rising and falling as one.
The tone of the album transforms with the narrative, and we as participants in that narrative transform with it. Sometimes we are lively, others we are low. Sometimes anxious, others assured. And always connected, to the point where, if we can lose ourselves in the music, we stand a decent chance of experiencing the evoked emotions as genuinely our own.*
Going beyond all of that, there is still much to say about Monomyth: Separation. For example, it’s filled with philosophical commentary. So much that I can’t adequately discuss it in this format. Suffice it to say, passionate discussions could be had about the ideas advanced on the album. Speaking broadly, the breadth of well blended musical styles evident on the track – jazz, funk, soul, dub, hip-hop, to name a few – speaks to the artist’s quality.
Still more could be said about the finer details (like the homage to Sgt. Pepper’s on the cover). Instead I will leave you to it with a piece of advice. Don’t think too hard the first time you listen to it. Let the experience happen.
Monomyth: Separation – “God Moves”
Monomyth: Separation – “Luiz Ville Groove (feat. Hugo Kant)”
*This can probably be said of all music.