ALBUM REVIEW: Mike Shinoda – Dropped Frames, Vol. 3

Release Date: September 18th 2020
Label: Kenji Kobayashi Productions


The ever-prolific, idle hands of Mike Shinoda have been on a mission to actively resist lockdown boredom since before the summer began. What seemingly started as a somewhat spontaneous, inclusive project to entertain fans and himself alike (via his Twitch streams) has developed into an increasingly intriguing instrumental journey.

After the one-two punch of the first two volumes, released only weeks apart back in July, this third entry has been given two solid months to gestate, and this longer timeframe isn’t only relevant to the quality and focus of the project, but also sonically. Opting for a subdued approach, the material on here feels more akin to the soundtrack of a sprawling multi-genre film, foregoing the majority of the electro-funkified boom-bap bangers that littered the previous instalments.

Mellow chillwave cuts such as ‘Robot Yodel’ and ‘Mike’s Gonna Mike’ utilise a sparse and subtle treacle of acoustic guitar to add gentle dimensions, with the latter swelling into an ambient electro jaunt across neon skylines. Directly following this highlight is the discordant, stringy, offbeat weirdness of ‘Shoreline’, which echoes Shinoda‘s earlier production work with Fort Minor.

As the most reserved, ambient and nuanced volume thus far, it’s realistically the first to feel like a full-length expansion of the near iconic interludes found on initial Linkin Park albums. ‘Dust Code’ and ‘A Thousand Jams’ both exude that ethereal, dream-like haze that initially captivated so many on ‘Cure For The Itch’ two decades ago. While the occasional hard-hitting percussion found in brief segments like on the minute-long hyper-vibe of ‘Genesis Supernova’ conjures memories of the cult-status ‘Session’ from ‘Meteora’.

From an admittedly unfocused yet endlessly endearing first volume to a much more refined and metered follow-up, the utmost has been done to put time in lockdown to good use. Now, with uncertainty continuing to loom and permeate almost every facet of life, this ‘Dropped Frames’ series seems like a therapeutic endeavour, a musical escape; constantly shifting, morphing, and reflecting differing emotions and mindsets.

Capitalising on each preceding instalment with an expanding of scope and approach, Mike Shinoda continues to further cement his ability as a chameleon producer when manning the boards. The neo-soul psychedelic minimalism of ‘Goodbye Cow’ serves as testament to this; a delicate and immersive sonic experience being canvassed beneath the stars and within ourselves.

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