I've Been Franklin - Total Yang: The End of Franklin
(2013 Holy Page)
"Sounds like it should be stored in a Nintendo 64 cartridge rather than a cassette tape."
I've heard people say that a truly great album will inspire one to start a band. What if an album makes me want to create a new Paper Mario game, just so I can use it in the soundtrack? The third installment in a trilogy of cassettes by Portland's I've Been Franklin does just that. Total Yang is an instrumental electronic album that sounds like it should be stored in a Nintendo 64 cartridge, not a cassette tape, short muzak-inspired jams that have subtly poppy song structures. Multi-layered drum loops like those that New Order employed in the mid 80s skitter and jump like popcorn on the stove top. Grainy synths glisten with a polygonal glow, like a 64-bit sunshine.
Total Yang opens with "No Film", which at first seems to be formless, metallic drones being pulled apart like scrap paper. Although initially sounding cacophonous, the legion of deep, oboe-like hums eventually swirl together in groaning harmony, twinkles shimmering above the surface. Although the track on its own is quite beautiful, the songs following it really begin to take a definitive shape. "Risotto Vs. Basil" is one of the more complex cuts, springy bass and choppy beats slicing and dicing pasty keyboards that sound as if squeezed from a toothpaste tube. Although its title might lead one to believe it's an epic track spanning several minutes, "A True Existential Dilemma, The Story of Egg Head" is a very brief track, but is possibly the album's most satisfying; a funky rhythm is supplemented by mirror ball synths. "End of Franklin" closes out the tape in melancholy fashion, a slow, vaporwavey burner. Actually, Total Yang is planned to be the final album released by the mysterious solo project, and in my opinion, it's I've Been Franklin's best. See if you agree, you can listen to it below.