When I met DJ Frane about 10 years ago, he was fresh off the release of Electric Garden of Delights, opening for acts like Tha Liks, making blazing beats, and providing a soundtrack to smoke sessions throughout the world. In that time span since, this talented musician, DJ, producer, and beat maker toured as Blowfly’s keyboard man, released Journey To The Planet of the Birds, held down all vinyl DJ gigs all over, and continued to do it the Frane way. What way is that you ask? Two words: his way. His latest effort, Hi Dusty Stranger has been released independently (are you surprised?) and is definitely a must have for those who are fans of instrumental, sample based music. A fantastic voyage of drum beats, smoked out riddims, synth sounds and a samplefest of Hip Hop, Jazz, Funk and anything else Frane throws your way, this record is his best yet. Frane’s beats are tighter than ever, and his maturity as an artist shows. What Hip Hop artist is sampling (or playing) a Jew’s Harp as heard on “Road To Dreamcatcher Mountain”? Who has the balls to do this? Frane does. He does stuff like this unapologetically, and even if you don’t get it, you learn to accept it. Again, it’s that good. You’d be hard pressed to find an artist doing a 10 minute plus Hip Hop instrumental like “The Mirage and the Gunslinger” that combine Hip Hop beats with the Psychedelic sounds of Jazz, Rock, and Soul and precise turntablist cuts these days. You might be able to count on one hand artists that are attempting it, but Frane gets it right. At any given moment on this LP you’ll hear a Horace Silver riff, an MC Lyte vocal, a nod to the Beastie Boys as well as classic Hip Hop vocal collages blended together like they were born to be. You will hear plenty of samples you recognize: Dorothy Ashby, Method Man, etc. You will also hear plenty you don’t recognize. That’s ok though, you’ll be too busy nodding your head and lost in this surreal sound system to care. They all sound like they should be there.
Hi Dusty Stranger is pushing forward with atmospheric, instrumental Hip Hop just like DJ Shadow did with Entroducing. Where Shadow took journeys that touch on Drum and Bass and the at the time, the newly penned genre Trip Hop, he still remained Hip Hop to the core. In fact, he was changing the face of Hip Hop and beat oriented instrumental music forever. Frane has grabbed on to that philosophy however, and gone a step in his own direction. He too remains Hip Hop to the core, but also keeps it equal parts Funkadelic, Pink Floyd, 60’s Psych and Jazz, and Hip Hop history all rolled up in a 10 track Frane themed beat lesson. This effort falls more along J.Rocc’s Cold Rock Stuff in comparison than Entroducing, but it deserves to be right up there. It’s groundbreaking in this day and age of the 70 BPM beat or Dubstep ridiculousness and has been applauded by everyone from Wax Poetics to High Times (duh) to XL8R and more. There are only 420 copies of this hand numbered by Frane with the gatefold case featuring original artwork painted by Ashley Montague and LauraLee K. Harris. My next question is: when are we going to get the vinyl? This future classic needs a run. From start to finish, Hi Dusty Stranger pulls you in on a aural ride that just keeps going. Headphones are recommended, but feel free to crank this effort up loud through whatever you’re playing it on. DJ Frane is another artist carrying on traditions of the originators who made this music, sampling them in a tasteful and unique way to push the listener’s boundaries of musical tastes to new, heightened levels. If you miss this ride, you’re missing something very special.
Cop your version of Hi Dusty Stranger here.
Coyote’s Trail Mix
Find more info on DJ Frane on his facebook page.
Follow Frane on twitter.
Revisit DJ Frane’s Big Ups interview here.