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Dim the Lights for Frank Ocean’s Cover of “Moon River”

By Peter Ntourntourekas; For the Clock
On February 25, 2018

Almost a year and half after the release of his most recent album “Blonde,” Frank Ocean has been keeping busy and reminding audiences that he has more to offer. Between his previous albums, there would be months of silence from the artist and producer, sometimes leading fans to craft intricate conspiracies about hidden music releases and performances. Most of them proved to be untrue, but fans persisted nonetheless.

The reward for this fandom seems to be a plethora of singles released since he both released his album and closed his previous recording contract. With his new artistic freedom, Frank Ocean has taken full advantage of online streaming platforms, sporadically releasing a radio show containing new singles and keeping fans strung along.

The most recent of the six singles is titled “Moon River,” released on February 14; Valentine’s Day. The song title might sound familiar to some movie buffs, and that’s because it’s a cover of a song most famously performed by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

While the song was originally composed by Henry Mancini, it has been performed by many other famous artists through time, including Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams. Hepburn’s performance on the silver screen remains the most iconic for most listeners.

Ocean’s version is quite sonically removed from the original, however. Hepburn strums an acoustic guitar and whispers melodies over a rusted fire escape in the film. Ocean’s version features pitch-shifted vocals and pained screams that pierce through his digital soundscape.

Where Hepburn is accompanied by a strings section added through movie magic, Ocean is accompanied by shades of himself, echoing across your left and right headphone, slightly detuned and human.

In his usual style, Frank Ocean uses expressly inhuman sounds to add humanity to his work, shifting in and out of autotune and reverb. There’s an auditory washiness to the song, surely playing on the ‘river’ in the title of the song.

There are rumblings that this wave of singles is leading up to another album release, with fans citing Ocean’s personal Tumblr page as evidence. Time will tell, but for now we have these singles, and they are quite the pleasure. “Moon River” is yet another masterpiece from someone who will surely go down as a defining artist of this era. 

Score: 9/10

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