The New Manic Focus album ‘Cerebral Eclipse’ brings future funk
John “JmaC” McCarten, otherwise known as Manic Focus, has finally released the independently produced album Cerebral Eclipse. The album is currently available on iTunes, Spotify, and Soundcloud. This album features artists from similar musical backgrounds, but it manages to branch out into several different psychedelic flavors. The featuring artists include Eryn Kane and ProbCause on track two “Trail Blazin,” which goes into track three featuring the grooviness of Michael Menert, then the album takes a breather with three originals, followed by “We Can Fly” with TORCH, “Travelin’ on my Mind” featuring The Coop, after that Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic is on “Bumpin in the Voodoo,” and the album closes out by a feature with Griz on “Life Goes On.”
The sound of this album is as if the soul and funk of the 60’s and 70’s were put into a time capsule that was thrown into space and upon its return the atmosphere morphed the sound into a psychedelic bass driven rendition of the original forms of funk and soul. Manic Focus undoubtedly accomplished blurring the lines of producer and musicianship, so much so that it would be difficult for the Congress theater in Chicago or Bloomington Illinois to legally define it as “EDM.” Cerebral Eclipse will definitely test the boundaries of the strict laws that are starting to hinder musical expression, and for that Sensible Reason is grateful.
This is an album with a concept. It is an album that will hopefully provide the musical inspiration to create the insight it takes to end whatever form of Cerebral Eclipse that one may be experiencing. Perhaps this album will shine some light on the part of the consciousness that seems a little dark. But don’t worry when the music is over, because life goes on and Manic Focus is “Dedicated to the Service.”
So let’s delve into the soul of this album’s space-funk music.
Dedicated to the Service
This song really sets the tone of classic Manic. The smooth guitar led introduction slowly ushers in other synthesized layers and lyrics. The lyrical cut in this track emphasizes why this song is and should be the first track of the album, because Manic is dedicated to the service. About halfway through the track the sound opens up to reveal a heavy amorphous bass line that plays by the rules of hip hop, but it ends with a lot of open space and groovy undertones.
Trail Blazin’ Featuring Eryn Kane and ProbCause
This song features lyrical cuts from Eryn Kane which gives it a very space-jam vibe because of the vocal harmony and expansive synthesizer sounds. ProbCause accompanies the tune for a few psychedelic based rhymes that pop off of Manic Focus’s continuous and heavy wobble bass line. This song is recommended for cruising on a sunny fall day. It will really tie the cruise together.
Space Scholar Synthesis Featuring Michael Menert
Michael Menert dropped some knowledge onto this track. What did we learn? We learned that when his sound interacts with Manic and becomes “Focused” we get the true flavors of classical funk horns interacting with some very interesting bass lines. The hip hop beat keeps the song driven the entire time, but it is counteracted by abstract horn sections. Dancing to this song is pretty much an obligation.
This song is all about the synthesizer over tasteful rhythm guitar that will retract for some nice piano work only to return back to the groove. There are faint blues lyrics that hop in and out singing, “every day I have the blues.” The Manic style of course unites all of them together by the end to create one complex funky flavor.
On the Horizon
The beginning softens the flow of the entire album and slows it down with some nice hip hop beats backing a very clean stand up bass sound. Eventually smooth jazzy keys get thrown into the mix with the xylophone holding down the texture and opening up the space of the song. Then the sound becomes Manically Focused on the bass line that comes in briefly and returns in the end to take the song all the way out.
Just Another Fool
This song showcases the bassline that relies heavily on the down beat of the tempo. Manic continues to display very distorted, but tasteful lyrical cuts in this track that compliment the spacey guitar line.
We can Fly Featuring TORCH
The trap beat is alive and well within this track. The high hat rhythms are intricate, but the trap doesn’t over ride the heavy dub that dictates the song within certain sections. Once again the guitar and cut lyrics hold down a consistent spot within the track, an element that is self reflective of Manic Focus’s sound. You may just have to lay back and listen while they catch up on their pimpin’, but don’t worry because you will still be allowed to get your groove on.
Travelin’ on my Mind Featuring the Coop
This seems to be the most musically unique and instrumental of all the tracks thanks to some help from The Coop. The beginning is reminiscent of electro-jam. The clean bass line and drum set are very prominent in the beginning of the track. Yet again, Manic peels back the layers to reveal some saxophone and a little guitar that pops from the clean reverb sound that accompanies the flow and showcases some heavy bass guitar that borderlines the slap bass technique. The contrast in this piece is very noticeable, but easy going. Again, dancing is an obligation.
Bumpin in the Voodoo Featuring Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic
Perhaps the most sought after collaboration on the album, Dominic from Big Gigantic graces us with his presence on this track. This is arguably the most upbeat track on the album. It takes a while for Dominic’s part to come in, but when it does it shines. However, you have to wait. The song begins with a super funky intro to which he fulfills the background position, don’t freak out because as the lyrics say, “it’s all going to be alright.” Just wait for the sweet sound of that saxophone to dominate the time and space of the track. If you want the face melting sax fast forward to about two minutes, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor by listen to the whole thing. Thank yourself later.
Life Goes On Featuring Griz
Manic Focus consciously ends the production with some words of wisdom through his music, as if this album didn’t already ooze with conceptualization from its very name and intro track. This is a very clean cut track that features quality instrumentation with a touch of electronic that accentuates the “come down” feeling of the album. Griz blesses this track with his saxophone prowess as well, giving it the instrumental flavor that has been a repetitive theme throughout this truly interesting production.