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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

November 21, 2012 at 10:09 AM

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Fall with Frank Ocean: 'Monks'

Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange" is the summer/fall album of 2012 — a low-key stroke of genius from the Los Angeles-via-New Orleans R&B singer-songwriter, making headlines for bringing man/man romance into pop R&B. But it's deeper than that. I'm blogging about each song individually, in order. Sorry but Internet Explorer does not support the full album stream below.

"They mosh for enlightenment." That is what monks do when they rage in the pit, according to Frank Ocean. The lyrics to "Monks" make it the weirdest song on "Channel Orange," a funky, dreamy break from the rest of the album. Come on, dancing buddhists and a "coke-white tiger"? This guy is tripping! Musically, it stands out from the other tracks on the album as the sole location of the funk. The rest of the album is never funky. It swings, knocks, seethes and floats. But there's never that bass like on "Monks," with that special rubber-snap, and those splashy cymbals. The bass player might be Malay, from Bellingham. He wrote and recorded almost all of "Channel Orange." And he might be the drummer, too. With those furious kicks, you want to know who's playing — but the credits on "Orange" are confusing, another reminder that Ocean will not be demystified willy-nilly. We, the listeners, are on a need-to-know basis.

Summer of Frank Ocean: "Thinkin Bout You"
Summer of Frank Ocean: "Fertilizer"
Summer of Frank Ocean: "Sierra Leone"
Summer of Frank Ocean: "Sweet Life"
Summer of Frank Ocean: "Super Rich Kids (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)"

Summer of Frank Ocean: "Pilot Jones"
Summer of Frank Ocean: "Crack Rock"
Summer of Frank Ocean: "Pyramids"
Summer of Frank Ocean: "Lost"
Fall with Frank Ocean: "White" (feat. John Mayer)

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