With the “new normal” of quarantine life, more and more artists are learning to adapt to the situation. There’s a push to work as independently as possible as well as a pervading turmoil, frustration, and uncertainty many currently face with their livelihoods in jeopardy.
It’s somewhat inspiring then to see new music being produced and released at such a bizarre time in history. ‘Dropped Frames, Vol. 1’, the latest offering from Linkin Park mastermind Mike Shinoda, is a curious collection in every sense. The album is a self-described highlight reel of the work Shinoda does on his live Twitch streams; something he has become very devoted to since lockdown began.
By taking input from viewers and combining it with whatever ideas pop into his head while streaming, Shinoda has created a work that’s quite communal in nature. He’s gone so far as to state that the project is “just as much about the live channel as it is about the album.” Is it any good, though?
Intriguing is the first word that comes to mind when approaching ‘Dropped Frames, Vol. 1’. Apart from the fake-out opener ‘Open Door’, which is a pop-rap banger complete with clattering percussion and a radio-ready chorus, the remainder is comprised entirely of dense, intricate instrumental work. It’s no secret how talented and unique of a producer Shinoda can be when he puts his mind to it, and he doesn’t concern himself too much with mainstream acceptance. The recent, staggering remix of Foxing‘s ‘Grand Paradise’ is testament to that.
It’s truly refreshing to hear music so untethered come from an artist of such widespread recognition. These are truly tracks for the few, not the many, and it’s their biggest strength. Elements of ambient, synthwave, electronica, boom bap, and dance-punk are utilised expertly to mesh these brief soundscapes together seamlessly, often for little more than two minutes and some change.
If there’s one minor flaw to be found, it’s the essence of incompleteness surrounding the album. At a little over a half hour, there’s no real standout moment or chance for any of the material to truly peak. With that being said, Shinoda has already confirmed that ‘…Vol. 2’ is already finished and will arrive sooner rather than later. In this newfound context of approaching ‘Dropped Frames’ as an expanding body of creativity rather than a solely independent release, it’s safe to assume that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.