In a constantly morphing and rather peculiar concept album, DJ Frane characterizes a blissful garden scene in a mist of drug-altered arrangements and trippy soundscapes on his second full-length. Electric Garden of Delights (or Beats to Blaze To, Vol. 2) is the follow-up installment to his 1999 fantastic debut, Frane’s Fantastic Boatride, continuing his effort to dig away at the wall between ’60s psychedelia and intricate instrumental hip-hop.
Frane’s not afraid to incorporate some live instruments, but it’s difficult to determine what’s live and what’s sampled. He’s fearless with his sampling, pulling pieces of a cartoon fairytale record about a frog and his magic garden to even recognizable parts from 1967 greats such as the Procul Harum debut LP. His work gets the standard list of comparisons, but it’s worth mentioning that after two minutes into a track, Frane is far from done in his changing and rearranging how the piece will end up. He carefully links every track together, even as the beats range from druggy down-tempo to bouncy hip-hop chaos.
In the opening moments of “Toad,” he scratches through a narrator’s tale of a frog and a toad comparing their garden’s successes as a sluggish snare, bass and cymbal loop enter. Not far from something the Automator and Q-Bert might have put together for Dr. Octagon, Frane includes a creepy string section sample here, some churchy chorus and piano. Just as the bong water has settled, “I Am Dreaming” takes center stage and introduces a weed-induced dream segment fit for a Jim Breuer film.
Garden‘s pleasant lethargic feel never disappoints, from its mid-song scratch bouts to its strangely authentic psychedelia. DJ Frane scores the messiest of dorm rooms with his weird compositions and perilous ventures through what becomes pointless but pleasant Peter Fonda drug cinema. He’s a master of the party backdrop but should easily be the center of party conversation: break out the lava lamps and push a towel under the door, Frane is making his mark.