Album: Future Shock
Release Date: 4.23.21
The jazz fusion of tomorrow is here today via Michael Whalen’s innovative Future Shock, also the title of Alvin Toffler’s 1970 best-seller about psychologically drowning in a swift-moving current of rapid technological change. Humanity has nothing to fear from Whalen’s forward-looking instrumentals, where refreshing washes of electronica and streaming melodic puzzles of progressive dynamics erase unsettling dystopian visions and ease feelings of being unmoored and isolated in a cold, godless computer age.
Gradually evolving soundscapes unfold throughout Future Shock, entirely composed, arranged, produced, and mixed by the Emmy Award-winning Whalen, renowned for his television soundtrack work and keyboard, synthesizer and programming wizardry. It is no wonder then that Future Shock closes with the languid, soulful flow and nighttime sprawl of a cinematic “Your Eyes, Your Touch, Your Kiss,” preceded by the anxious urgency and magnificent swells of soaring drama in “Wanderlust.” Whirls of kinetic energy and colorful blips, the title track and the ultramodern “Poly Jam” invent a kind of futuristic, pulsing funk that dissolves into spreading liquidity, while the bittersweet sigh “Morning on the Cape” is carried by hope and a flurry of beats. Virtuosic precision has rarely sounded so human.
The whole of Future Shock is more than the sum of its parts, as Tony Levin’s smooth, undulating bass, Simon Phillips’ drumming complexity and Bob Magnuson’s array of reed instruments, including clarinet and shehnai, throw their weight behind Whalen’s imaginative flights of fancy. Breezy flute, courtesy of Magnuson, blows across a jaunty “La Hermosa Noche,” its island sounds giving way to swirling, mystical immersion, whereas Magnuson’s saxophone brings gleaming buoyancy to “Memories of You” and melancholic reflection to the slow, aching ballad “Lights of Home.” Fusion’s Future is bright, indeed, thanks to Whalen.