Minds Rising, the new full-length album from Manic Focus, is out now on all digital retailers and streaming platforms, debuting at #7 on the iTunes Electronic chart. Minds Rising is an infectious encapsulation of Manic Focus’ roots in funk, soul, new-era hip hop, and electronic music. The album is an artful curation of the burgeoning Chicago music landscape and beyond, featuring appearances from cutting-edge hip hop artists, vocalists, producers, and musicians from across the country. Minds Rising is an opus two years in the making, and paints an aural illustration of Manic Focus’ shift from producer to composer — one beat, instrument and verse at a time.
Minds Rising features collaborations with a stacked roster of talented musicians, including the percussive genius of Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Break Science), powerful vocals of Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), and meticulous production of Late Night Radio, who all join forces on the album’s soulful lead single, “Stronger.” ProbCause lays down heavy bars on the trap anthem “Putting All Of My People On.” Russ Liquid backs “Habit” with a funky New Orleans style three-piece horn section, while emerging hip hop group the RapperChicks deliver witty, earth-shattering verses and a captivating chorus to round out the track. Brooklyn based musicians Exmag and Borahm Lee (Lowtemp Music, Break Science) harmonize on “Your X Now” to bring space jazz rhythms and twinkling piano elements to Manic Focus’ stellar composition. Other collaborations include features from future bass producer Psymbionic on “Pushing,” rising Chicago stars Statik on “Stochastic Resonance,” Carlile on “Timeless,” and the razor sharp lyricism of Chicago rapper Psalm One on “Joy In the Noise.” The album title pays homage to his entourage of loyal followers, collectively known as the “Manic Focus Minds,” reminding them to rise above these tumultuous times and use music as a way to uplift and carry them through. Manic Focus (John McCarten) says:
Music of today should be the positive force of change that the world needs. Everyone making music is going to interpret that in a different way, but the creation overall is essential. Music and all other arts are tools of expression that the powers at large haven’t been able to take away. When used the right way, these tools can unite people and initiate real change. Much of the music I’ve made in the past was created in a bedroom, basement, or on the road. For Minds Rising, I actually went into a studio to record parts of the album with live tracking.
After the release of his last album, Cerebral Eclipse, McCarten wanted to explore new ways to perfect his craft by creating 100% sample free music, and by incorporating real instrumentation on each track – whether it’s the boom-bap drum rhythms from drummer Jacob Barinholtz, the seductive violin from Kat V coupled with Marvel Years’ piercing guitar on “Rage Fits Perfect,” or Russ Liquid’s masterful multi-instrumentalism on “Habit.”
In what will be Manic Focus’ most eventful year to date, 2017 is off to an incredible start. In August, Manic Focus joins Pretty Lights at the legendary Gorge Amphitheater alongside STS9, Atmosphere, Tipper, and Lettuce, and more (tickets).
Stream or download “Minds Rising” on Google Play, Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud or Apple Music here.
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