DJ Frane Journey to the Planet of Birds (or Beats To Blaze To Volume 3)

Almost ten years after the release of the first volume, DJ Frane finally completes his instrumental Beats To Blaze To trilogy. The series opened with the water-based Frane’s Fantastic Boatride, one of the best instrumental hip-hop albums ever, continued with the earth-based Electric Garden of Delights and now ends with the California DJ/producer taking to the sky and beyond for Journey to the Planet of the Birds. The fourth element of fire is the glue that holds it all together — after all, you can’t blaze to these beats without something to light the weed. Like the previous instalments, Journey to the Planet of the Birds is a funky mix of Frane’s live instrumentation (a greater emphasis is given to piano this time) and samples from a variety of musical styles and sources, with each song intricately mixed, layered and positioned so as to tell a story. It starts with psychedelic opening track "The Day the Listeners Came,” where a man capable of translating the colours in his head into music begins his "trip beyond.” Accompanying the drums, bass, piano and flute are airy effects and bird sounds. More bird sounds are sampled, cut and scratched for "A Story I Heard,” a fun and funky psych rock jam about a man who wants to be a bird. Following track "Take A Look” keeps the psych rock vocal samples but goes for a much darker beat and more ethereal sounds for his first journey off the ground. While these are a few tracks that stand out from the rest, the album is best heard as a whole and should be entertaining, enjoyable and worth repeat listens whether stoned or straight. (Independent)