|Album Review: Mr. Flash – Sonic Crusader|
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Ed Banger has had a long history of being one of the most legendary record labels in France. Starting off with the labelhead himself being the former manager for Daft Punk, the label has been the breeding ground for some of France's biggest electronic acts to date including the likes of Justice, Mr. Oizo, and the young Louis Brodinski.
Mr. Flash was the first signee to the illustrious label, and yet a lot of his work remained one off releases and never really a full fledged album. UNTIL NOW. Ladies and Gentlemen, the amazing Mr. Flash has finally completed his album and it recently came out on June 2nd right in time for the warm summery days ahead, really perfect for the vibes the album emits overall.
The Ed Banger guys always know how to kick off every dj-set or production with a good introduction, and this is no different. Mr. Flash kicks things off with "The Tale," which dramatically hypes the energy up to ten and sets the mood perfectly for the funk-infused wonder of "Motorcycle Boy" with a strong drum line and a subtle bass line that all leads its way to the horn section and vocals with a riddling synth line. Proving that funk isn't dead, Mr. Flash dabbles in both traditional rock n' roll and modern music, really a bit of a defining quality of Ed Banger's overall ability to stay connected to the past, present, and future.
The third track was a single available for free download ahead of the LP release, featuring the likes of Cities Aviv, Action Bronson, and Oh No. Mr. Flash has always had a large background of hip hop, and this single is an amazing one that demonstrates how far ahead of his time Mr. Flash may just be. The three diverse hip hop artists perfectly mesh well here and I'm just going to stop writing more about this, just listen to this perfection.
Returning back from the eclectic hip hop trend, he comes back strong with the synth-laden "Disco Dynamite" and then moves forth into the smooth number "Dazzle in the Dark." While these two tracks themselves are not nearly as strong as "Number One" with the three aforementioned rap lyricists, they still prove that Mr. Flash never quite lost site of the funk era, and he brings a strange French touch that's hard to ignore. It's almost romantic in that emotional literature sort of way, although not wild, just edgy.
"Domino Part A" and "Domino Part B" both continue this amazing trend further, but slow things down even further and bring a love-ballad, late night radio vibe to the table.
Then comes the best track of the entire release is "Midnight Blue," which features Surahn. While Chromeo is definitely defining their career in 2014 as the leading saviors of funk music, there has definitely been a couple of tracks (and the artists behind them) that are giving them a run for their money and this track is definitely one of them. It's definitely the strongest funk/disco track I've heard in a long time, and with the summer vibes, this is definitely going to be playing on boardwalks and bonfires across various beaches this summer.
"Sonic Crusader" tones it back down a little bit, before he kicks it up again with "Bagherra" which features Lady Leshurr. the vibe completely changes here, and while there is something reminiscent of the electro sound of the label, Mr. Flash shows a totally dirty side to him thats bound to resonate well with newer listeners of the French sound.
Continuing with "Drill" things take a turn toward the Gesaffelstein-esque in a horrific yet absolutely absorbing turn of events. "Apocalypso" brightens but it's still incredibly dark and majestic and a venture into yet another facet of the producer.
The last track is the perfect closer, weaving through and highlighting a calm at the end of the storm.
Overall, Mr. Flash proves that he's an amazing producer with not much to prove after 14 years of stunning work and this definitely frees him from any constraints. This album meets all the standards I would have set for a producer like Mr. Flash. He's funky and light when he wants to be, and simultaneously manages to frighten and shroud himself in mystery at other times. While he doesn't necessarily stun me with surprise and blow my mind in that aspect, I also believe part of the reason why this album doesn't surprise me is because I already knew how great his range was to begin with.
At the end, he gets an 8.5. The stunning standout tracks were absolute treasures, while there were a couple of fillers that take away arbitrary point scale system we have on the site. Mr. Flash nailed it as a whole though, and lets not hope it takes another decade and a half to see another LP of his see the light of day.