Janelle Monae: The Chase/The ArchAndroid

by Gabriel Oakes

The ArchAndroid

The ArchAndroid

There's been a lot of buzz about this woman since her "Tightrope" video came out late April. And justifiably. However most never mention the first part of her trilogy/ quadrilogy/ whatever, which deserves mention as this is no mere concept album. imagine if The Wall had been part of a trilogy of connected concepts. Has anyone ever done this before? Parliament eventually wove a narrative but advance planning was never something George Clinton was very good at.

Anyway, when your album series has a story, you start at beginning, which is The Chase. The setup, in the intro "March of the Wolfmasters" is that Cindi Mayweather, an android has fallen in love with a human, and will now be hunted and destroyed. The next three songs (and one interlude) introduce Mayweather herself in songs that clearly draw from the same stew of influences that begot Andre 3000's "Hey Ya" as well as decent dose of musicals, in the case of horns and strings heavy "Sincerely, Jane" the EP's closer.

The Archandroid opens with "Suite II: The Overture" for a reason of course, and the album itself continues the story, with songs bleeding together into two large suites. It seems that not only is Cindi on the run but her love as well. As with The Who's Tommy i suspect the narrative would be less confusing if the characters get voiced by different singers, although Monae does a good job with the use of various effects to separate things. Musically, the album reminds me of a very good DJ (say Mr Scruff) picking a bunch of his favorite soul/ R&B records- more or less- that just happen to have a narrative when put together. The influences are very eclectic. None of this slow song/ fast song nonsense that infects much of the R&B world, there's disco, James Brown, jazz, english folk, late 60's Santana, and more.

The story? by the end it seems that Cindi and her love are still on the run but got separated along the way, and are looking for each other. There are apparently two more chapters. Hopefully we get them. And quick.

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

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