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Posted on June 10th, 2014 (9:00 am) by Troy Arnold

It’s always an interesting move when a producer comes from behind the boards to put themselves over as the star of the show. More interesting is when that producer’s show is a mostly instrumental concept album that begs the question “why not just give these songs to other artists?” That is where we find ourselves with Mr. Flash and his electronic opus Sonic Crusader, a cosmic audio-play that tells the story of a star traveler. Problem is that star traveler is receiving a polished, yet out-of-date selection of songs.

Mr. Flash is quite the accomplished producer, having arranged songs over the years for many acts including Sebastien Tellier and Mos Def. The fun in Sonic Crusader has mostly to do with the framework of a man traveling through space, each song taking place on another adventure or two. Each track takes some musical influence from different decade and infuses it with an almost current flare. The second track “Motorcycle Boy” has a '60s vibe to it, with loud brass and guitar licks. It then goes into a harmonica and phaser laden breakdown. “Dazzle in Dusk” is a synth romance that comes right out of the '80s, minus the soulful voice behind it. The same could be said for many of the tracks on Sonic Crusader, great music, but just missing that little something to tie it all together.

Moreover, each song sounds as if it were started, at least conceptually, about five to eight years ago. The use of sped up soul samples on the rap songs are highly similar to the trend the permeated the genre around 2004, and was used sparingly by DJ’s. Even within the cosmic concept, it comes off as more of a misstep than anything else, especially considering the other musical trends at play within the same song. It doesn’t help that lyrically, each song is as generic as the come. You’d almost expect to hear them as stock music in a police drama while they were hassling teenage gangbangers.

When Sonic Crusader is doing it right, it rocks. Both “Domino Part A” and “Domino Part B” are exceptional electronic suites, but the lows of the album are more glaring than the highs. Sonic Crusader plays almost like an expansive demo reel of Mr. Flash's expertise; tracks that he was going to sell to the highest bidder, but nobody took him up on them. When some producers do this, it can turn into a great album cut for them, but in this case it felt like a missed opportunity. Many producers have gone on to showcase their talent while promoting other artists, look at Calvin Harris or David Guetta, but there as to be a layer of substance to the work that lifts it beyond “look what I can do” that Mr. Flash just didn’t have on this one.

Track List:

  1. The Tale
  2. Motorcycle Boy
  3. Number One feat. Cities Aviv, Action Bronson & Oh No
  4. Venus In Furs
  5. Disco Dynamite
  6. Dazzle In The Dusk
  7. Domino Part A
  8. Domino Part B
  9. Midnight Blue feat. Surahn
  10. Sonic Crusader
  11. Bagheera feat. Lady Leshurr
  12. Drill
  13. Parliament Of The Rooks
  14. Apocalypso
  15. The Wake
Mr. Flash: Sonic Crusader
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

64 / 100
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