Four years of silence, and a few months of teasing, later, and Frank Ocean has finally provided us with something concrete. Although, quite the contrary, it’s anything but concrete; it’s a fluid and wonderfully liberating sound. Following in the footsteps of Kanye West and The Queen Bey herself, last night, Mr. Frankie Ocean live-streamed his new visual album, Endless, on Apple Music.
The forty-five-minute video features Frank Ocean building a wooden staircase in a warehouse-type building, focusing on every intricate detail that goes in to the building of this staircase. It’s also all filmed in black and white. I know what you’re thinking and yes it is very edgy and artsy. But, bizarrely, it’s also deeply satisfying to watch and very calming, which is exactly what Ocean’s vibe is as an artist, so it’s perfect. Rightly so, the music isn’t exhilarating so neither is the action in the video. Would I pay to go and watch it at the cinema? Probably not, but I did enjoy watching it and hearing the songs accompany what was happening in perfect harmony. And if anyone can help me find some of Frank’s garms in the video I would be eternally grateful. Hopefully someone from Wavey garms is reading this – help a brotha out.
At first listen, I was very dubious about the songs. I had that sinking feeling in my heart that the songs were all very similar and I just couldn’t get in to it like I had with Ocean’s album channel Orange. I listened to them again at the end of a hard day, when all I wanted was to bathe in a rock pool underneath a waterfall, with a sunset and a rainbow, and a cheerful monkey on my shoulder as my good company. Places like that are quite hard to find in Wiltshire, but Frank brought it to my room. The songs aren’t made to be analyzed in detail, they just wash over you in the most soothing manner. That voice. That golden, soulful, rich, delicate voice will forever bedazzle me. The opening track is At Your Best (You Are Love), a cover of a song by the Isley brothers, shows off Ocean’s vocal range so beautifully and genuinely gave me the heebie jeebies. And with the help from some cracking artists like James Blake and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, the synths just go hand in hand with his voice. Comme Des Garcons is similarly smooth, and the loose structure just adds to the freedom of the sound. A lot of the songs are without percussion, but some of the ones that do have a pretty sweet beat going on. In particular, the final song, U-N-I-T-Y is really electronic and groovy. In wonderful Frank Ocean style, they add a different hip-hop element to the sound, but without changing the overall tone too dramatically, a bit like Super Rich Kids did on channel Orange. It all just flows.
So thank you Frankie, for this video with the ultimate un-wind and de-stress soundtrack. But hold up gang the fun and excitement does not stop there! We are still unsure as to whether the songs featured on Endless will also feature on Frank’s full album, Boys Don’t Cry, to be released this weekend (or so he says), or if these songs are just a teaser. A mise en bouche to warm the palette before the juicy, fully-fledged main course. I have to say, as much as I loved the songs and the video, if these are the only songs that will be featuring on the album to be released, then it will be a major disappointment and by major I mean MONUMENTAL. We have been waiting for this album since 2012, and the songs on Endless were beautiful Frank, but I am going to need a teensy weensy bit more substance and ‘je ne sais quoi’ if I’m going to listen to an album on repeat and love it forever. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this is just a taste of things to come. There are some real glimmers of hope in the sounds produced for ‘Endless’. PLEASE FRANK. PLEASE.
If, like me, you don’t have Apple Music, but want to experience the soothing nature of Frank, here’s a link to where you can watch Endless (I’m 95% sure it’s legal). Here’s also a track list of the songs in the video, even though it’s fairly tricky to discern some songs from others because they just kinda merge in to one.
Everyone say a prayer tonight for a stupendous album to be released at some point in the next 48 hours..
Asides from that happy weekend everyone,
- “At Your Best (You Are Love)”
- “Device Control”
- “Commes Des Garcons”
- “In Here Somewhere”
- “Deathwish (ASR)”
- “Rushes To”
- “Ambience 001: In A Certain Way”
- “Ambience 002: Honeybaby”
- “Slide On Me”