Future Shock by Michael Whalen has to be one of the most original released albums this year. Whalen, who is still fresh from chart topping success with his last offering Sacred Spaces, has created a splendid blended collection of fine songs, that range anywhere between progressive jazz to electro-funk and more.
The opening piece is our title track, the grand and all powerful composition entitled Future Shock, a mixture of driving synths, an all-consuming engine room of percussion, give us a undeniable opening moment of electronic magic, one that floats it’s manifestations between funk and chill out.
The slightly Jazzy motifs of Hop, Skip And Jump are truly addictive, and at times reminds me of a group from history that we all might know in the Average White Band, however Whalen’s keyboards and synths extend that further and almost into the realm of a Keith Emerson textured performance, this is something amazing to behold, and perhaps single material as well!
Smooth, sensual and layered, that is a fine description for our next track entitled La Hermosa Noche, lush and colourful Latin vibes are here, and the textured and tranquil global Jazz patterns really make this piece one of the most beautiful to bathe within upon the whole album.
Lights Of Home is a composition filled with expectancy, the gentle build and progression on keyboards is something one would have expected from Tony Banks of Genesis back in the day, then the saxophone break by Bob Magnuson was simply sublime; this tempered and soothing musical narrative would be one of my personal favourites from this wonderfully cultured album.
As we approach the half way marker we come across a song that is as radiant as the day is new, it’s called Memories Of You. This is one of those compositions that could easily suite a TV series as its theme tune, apart from that, the wonderfully fluent Jazz ethic here is so creative, and conjures up some really warming images of times past and times enjoyed.
Whalen’s love for Jazz and his own interpretations for it are well known and much appreciated, and on Poly Jam we find that utter uniqueness that is the very heart and soul of the artist. It’s time to push the boundaries with this effervescing and exciting offering, from funk to progressive rock, from ELP to Yes and back, this piece simply has something for everyone.
How can you ever come across a track like Miracle Mile and not utterly love it, bathed in the energies of Caribbean ethic, and swimming with the heartbeat of bands like the UK’s Level 42 or Spyro Gyra, with that ever addictive funky drum beat and percussive vibe, this is Jazz Funk at its best, with Whalen’s keyboards creating some of the most emphatic moments ever.
The light and artistic Morning Song is up next, one could with ease imagine playing this as part of a spring waking ritual in early April, this is a wonderful composition and a beautifully chilled piece as well, where one can enjoy the symbiotic partnership between Magnuson and Whalen on Sax and Synths, this track is a true breakfast anthem.
To grace us with a penultimate piece like Wanderlust was a real gift from heaven, its fast and vibrant tempo manifests a huge well of musical energy, and one has to tip the hat for an utterly outstanding performance on percussion by the simply amazing Simon Phillips, a man who if I remember correctly, I watched perform with The Michael Schenker group back in the early eighties, and rated to be one of the world’s best ever on the skins, whatever genre he performs in.
The last chilled offering off this quite breath taking release is entitled Your Eyes, Your Touch, Your Kiss, I mean what a great title. This has to be the sexiest arrangements off the entire album, here is a piece that exudes sensuality through performance, and of course, leaves you wanting more at its conclusion.
Future Shock by Michael Whalen is a journey of musical class you’re all going to want to travel, it’s funky and soul filled compositions are all produced with such quality and precision it’s impossible to resist, in fact resistance is entirely futile. The tip of several hats has to go here to his collective of stunning musicians including Simon Phillips (Drums &Percussion) Bob Magnuson (Sax and more) and Tony Levin Basses galore, each artist’s imprint of perfection is upon this album, and Michael Whalen’s sheer brilliance on keyboards has brought to the world one of the most desirable albums to enjoy this year with ease and named Future Shock.
Here is the sale/streaming fanlink for the album: https://fanlink.to/michaelwhalenfutureshock