Casey Frensz: “Identity Game” – raw musical intelligence

Casey Frensz is a multi-instrumentalist and composer in Minneapolis, MN. He composes and records all of his music in his low budget home studio. Casey’s songs are meticulously composed...

Casey Frensz is a multi-instrumentalist and composer in Minneapolis, MN. He composes and records all of his music in his low budget home studio. Casey’s songs are meticulously composed with plenty of room for improvising. But most importantly, the music is simply beautiful. Plenty of rumbling basslines, rattling drum beats and stirring horns. All awash with waves of warm keys and jangly guitars. These songs are fluid, morphing, psychedelic gems. The virtuosity and creativity contained within are truly inspiring. The collection of songs on the album “Identity Game” encapsulates the sound of a bygone era that I think really defines the spirit and daring that made it so engaging. This album seems to me to be as much a musical statement as a great collection of songs. I hear an artist committed to songwriting and performance as an art form, and to the listeners who are willing to explore with his material.

This album is all energy. It is often very rhythmic and busting at the seams with raw musical intelligence. Even though it starts off on slow-burning bluesy piece, entitled “Broken Heart Blues”, that about all the respite you’re going to get here.

“Fight For Your Right to Funk” (Ft. Dieter Hein Mutis) is infused with a funky spirit and enthusiasm of artists simply having a great time and hungry to show off their immense talent and creativity. The track even has a speeded-up section, which Casey calls the “boogie breakdown”. It’s almost like a musical exercise in maintaining timing rudiments, which works at a certain tension-filled level.

“Waiting for the Phone” is another jam-ready song, with Casey Frensz locking down an upbeat, bulletproof groove. When listening to the melodic momentum and energy infused into this song, it’s hard to believe that this album was conceived in the wake of a great loss for the artist.

But as Casey himself explains: “It doesn’t matter what happens, there is always room to grow. There is a beautiful spirit inside of you, never force your love to hide. Follow your dreams and sing your songs!” And that’s exactly what he has done here.

“Sounds That Can’t Be Found”, starts in silence and then slowly builds into a cacophony of bold brass motifs, before breaking into a poignant piano-driven ballad. Casey does an excellent job of combining heartfelt emotion with long-form song structure, a tough trick for most artists to pull off successfully: it is an exquisite song of loss and longing.

As streamlined and mainstream-friendly as Casey Frensz can get, he loves cranking out a good epic, and “Poco a Poco (This is It)” falls neatly into this compartment with its eight plus minutes of Latin-flavored, rhythmic bliss.

“Identity Game” encompasses an overall theme of positivity and enthusiasm, as many of the songs embrace the idea of having to surrender to the consequences of life but striving to remain happy and joyous while doing so.

A prime example of this attitude is the final track “Love The World”, which may just be the most accessible, as well as the pick of the bunch. Casey is firing on all cylinders here, as the song contains plenty of complex, interweaving guitar, bass, keyboards and brass lines, as well as potent vocals.

One of the most thought provoking aspects of this album, is Casey Frensz’s ability to compile and create a list of incredibly diverse songs into one cohesive piece. Vibrating with love and light, “Identity Game” is a wholly satisfying experience. It stands in stark musical contrast to the prefabricated sounds bouncing around mainstream radios currently.

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