Check it out! We got 5 Stars from URB!!
I’m supposed to be a writer, yet I’m at a loss for words.
I’ll try as best I can to explain what I’ve just experienced. Like most great albums, this one is kind of like a drug-trip. You know you’ve gone to a place unlike any you’ve ever visited before. You were aware of the strange emotions and consciousness expanding effects while you were on the drug, yet when you try to explain it to those who’ve never tried it, words seem to fail. Then again, maybe my feeble brain just can’t put into words a concept that isn’t totally in my grasp even after three listens. I do know that the first time is almost like a sensory overload. You’re not quite sure what to expect, and when you buckle-up and slingshot off into Ms. Monae’s funky yet bizarre universe there are so many sounds, words and colors to take in that another spin is almost essential.
And yes, there are colors.
This is something that she recently mentioned in an interview and I immediately dismissed as sounding artsy and pretentious. Now after taking the trip a few times I couldn’t give you a better description myself. What she (and her all-star production team) have put together is a spectrum of sound — packed and arranged perfectly into a masterfully composed (debut) full-length body of work. Co-executive producer Nate “Rocket” Wonder utilizes every kind of live instrumentation imaginable to provide Monae with the sonic playground that a brilliant musical mind like hers needs to fully explore the extent of her talents. Everything from full orchestral arrangements to xylophones, synthesizers and electric guitars projects the feel of some sort of shroomed-out, funkadelic broadway show. These lush sonic choices — coupled with song titles like “Mushrooms and Roses” and “Wondaland” — seem to purposefully call to mind the imaginative world of Lewis Carroll. And once you’ve plunged down the rabbit hole, there’s no preparation for the new and wonderful things you’ll encounter on the other side.
The album opens with an overture for Suite II, the second musical movement in her epic “Cindi Mayweather” concept series that launched with her 2007 EP, Metropolis: The Chase Suite. Next we’re catapulted right into the irresistible Latin-fused energy of “Dance Or Die,” featuring the spoken word of poet extraordinaire Saul Williams. Janelle even chooses to go (even more so than usual) into left field, taking an apparent cue from Andre 3000 and pseudo-spitting some spiritually uplifting rhymes.
From here the energy gradually begins to taper off into the jazzy bounce of “Faster” followed by the hypnotically thumping, slightly slower-paced “Locked Inside”. This energy decline should be expected when the most kinetically-charged song happens to be sequenced first. It isn’t a bad thing though, because once you’re bewitched by Jane’s spell, it’s damn near impossible to pull away. Unfortunately, the ol’ drug-trip analogy is once again the best tool I can use to describe the overall tone of this project. This is probably due to the fact that there isn’t exactly ONE overall tone. It’s more like a swirling, shifting kaleidoscope of tones. There are moments of pure mind-bendingly blissful truth… and there are moments that have you wondering what-in-the-hell you’re doing exploring this weird and scary place.
For example, the sweet and contemplative “Oh Maker” gives way to the bluesy yet unsettling funk-metal energy of “Come Alive (War of the Roses)”, on which Janelle gives the best vocal electric guitar impersonation I’ve heard since Clare Torry’s famous contribution to Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky.”
Yea, did I mention the fact that this chick has a set of pipes that could blast the paint job off an oil tanker?
What’s even more impressive than her raw power is her almost superhuman versatility. She leaps effortlessly from squeaky staccato into to soulful midrange. She’ll channel traditional broadway chops on one track, only to shoot off into a screeching punkish wail on the next. And when you have a wonderland of instrumentation and a cabal of creative minds to back it all up, it’s only logical to consider the possibility that you’ve got a modern-day classic on your hands.
I don’t know, maybe I’m just spewing platitudes because I bought into the hype (and trust me, there was a lot of it). I gave the album 5 stars not just because of its infectious innovation, but because of its musical importance. No matter what your tastes may be, The ArchAndroid warrants a listen. Go experience this genre-defying masterpiece for yourselves, but please don’t do it through a crappy pair of 2 cent earbuds like I did (the first time). Either allow this the dignity of being played through a quality sound system or go invest in a pair of Beats by Dres. This is far less an album than a cinematic experience.
Fix a drink, lay back, take the ride.
Check out this Behind the Scenes Footage of “Tightrope” video rehearsal !
“…..We were as exhausted at the end of Virtual HASTAC as conference organizers ever are. We had a hilarious post-conference sigh of relief at the end when I, Jen, Fiona, and Pam Fox (one of the developers of Google Wave, and based in Australia) were joking about sharing a HASTAC cocktail we would call The Wave and Fiona posted our favorite current music video, the amazing “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae, and we all were dancing in our actual spaces, on two continents and four cities, and laughing about it, together, on line using Google Wave.”
The ArchAndroid Crown: Designed by Zoman Ignatius, the half-elf, half-human mystic, reportedly 500 years ago. According to legend, the crown has several magic properties, as well as innovative technologies that can be employed only by The ArchAndroid. Zoman was a consummate inventor, artist and sculptor, a cross between Tesla and Da Vinci, and as such, he designed the crown to be a work of beauty that would embody the very spirit of Metropolis. According to legend, the crown features prominent Metropolis buildings and towers that will light up radiantly when the one and only true ArchAndroid wears the crown. According to the Daily Horos, this opulent headdress was stolen from the vaults in the Black House, reportedly by 1954, in October of 2715. Several members of 1954 were hunted down and executed for this crime. But the crown was never found. Many claim it has been secreted away to the Wonderground. There is also word that in the year 2010, several 1954 operatives have crafted a replica of this historic headdress to be worn by Janelle Monáe in anticipation for her album The ArchAndroid…no word on whether or not this replica has magic properties… The Living Cyktionary, 9th Edition, 2719
Exactly one week ago, The Wondaland Arts Society descended upon New York city to present the museum goers at the downtown Rubin Museum with the first tastes of the soon to be released Emotion Picture The Arch Android. Below is an Arch Article, an amalgam of the many reviews of the Listening Experience that we have collected over the course of the last 7 days.
Magical. Electrifying. A Futuristic Funky Sci-Fi Psychedelic Hiptrip. Thriller 2010! No, these are not the reviews for Disney’s 3-D motion picture, Alice in Wonderland. While I’m sure that they are comparable, I’m describing the sounds and sights of the futuristic funkster, Atlantic Records and the Wonderland Arts Society recording artist, Janelle Monae, and the experience of her forthcoming album, The Archandroid. The Archandroid is a wildly exciting record full of fast paced 808’s, throbbing bass lines, electric guitars and synthesized percussion. Archandroid is simply unlike anything currently in the R&B market, not like anything in the pop market, Janelle Monae’s only present day comparison is to herself. -GrooveVolt
“Janelle is my most artistic signing yet,” Diddy said, his image projected on the theatre’s screen. “She’s not afraid to dream. I’m known for my hype, but her music speaks for itself.” The deep beats of “Suite II Overture” then blasted to a film accompiment — videos of pyramids, boxing matches, trains, and taxis, plus acid-drenched pics of Monae (see above), the clip’s co-director — and in seconds the place was jumpin’. Members of Monae’s Wondaland Arts Society crew flailed, shook, mash-potatoed, and straight freaked in the aisles. And for good reason: The ArchAndroid is out-of-this-world funky, from the turbocharged R&B single “Tightrope” to the free-floating jazz guitar and psych bass grooves of “Mushrooms and Roses.”
Kenan Thompson, standing outside the venue after the event, wearing sunglasses in the dark, was impressed. “I loved it,” he said. “It’s high energy… it’s wild. – Spin Magazine
A vacation from the expected gallery unveiling, the crowd skeptically eyed tall shadowy figures in mirrored masks that floated around, greeting guests. Portions of the Grammy-nominated singer’s eagerly-awaited debut The ArchAndroid, due May 18, played in the background of a short “Emotion Picture” that the eclectic chanteuse co-directed starring OutKast’s Big Boi, poet Saul Williams, psychedelic dance-punk troupe Of Montreal, and the Wondaland Arch Orchestra. A true testament to her fans’ loyalty, as well as the quality of the music, everyone definitely loosened up and transformed into concertgoers. Shoulder shimmies turned into all-out “shake it like a Polaroid picture” mode within 10 minutes. And if this album moved a crowd of critics out of their seats, we think it just might move the rest of us to click the “Buy” button next to her pretty little pout on iTunes. -Rap-Up.com
*Stayed tuned for more pictures and video from your Chasemasters Jovian Zayne & George 2.0