Michael Whalen – Future Shock Review


No one knows what tomorrow might bring, especially in the world of music. But if you check out Michael Whalen’s upcoming album “Future Shock”, it will come as less of a surprise. Whalen and his talented friends have yet again delivered a groundbreaking and uncompromising album. Whether you choose to call it jazz fusion, new jazz or simply electronic, “Future Shock” is brimming with smashing arrangements and creative twists and turns. It chases the Covid19 blues away and gives a delightful glimpse of the future, shocking as it may be.

Pre-save for “Future Shock” will be available today. The release date is April 23rd 2021. 

Michael Whalen is a composer of over 650 television and film scores and thousands of advertising jingles. He has won two Emmy Awards. He is also a beloved artist in the ambient/New Age music field, and his piece “I Have Loved You For A Thousand Lifetimes” has been streamed over 37 million times on Spotify. His most recent albums are “Kiss the Quiet” (2018), “Cupid Blindfolded” (2019), and “Sacred Spaces” (2020). About the 2020 release, we wrote that “The French expression tour de force comes to mind many times while listening to “Sacred Spaces” – partly because of the highly creative soundscapes and partly thanks to Whalen’s exceptional melodic talent.”

Future Shock
The title track takes off from the very first note. “Future Shock” is a fresh and upbeat piece. It has a delightful touch of the Middle East and ancient history while at the same time pointing towards the future. Don’t be shocked if you find yourself looking for the replay button; It is a phenomenal and very welcoming album opener.

This time around, Michael Whalen has been working with the following artists: Simon Phillips on drums and percussion, Bob Magnuson on saxophones, flute and shehnai, and Tony Levin on electric and upright basses and the Chapman stick. It is easy to tell that they have had a great time in the studio; “Future Shock” is an extremely playful album.

Talking about playful, next out is “Hop, Skip and Jump”. Magnuson’s saxophone and Whalen’s one-of-a-kind synth arrangement is a match made in heaven. This is music with genuine street cred, it is so cool, and there are so many levels of sound to appreciate. Again, the album points back in time – to the 1970s and 80s – yet its feet are planted firmly in the future. When exactly, I don’t know, but it is well ahead of the curve.

La Hermosa Noche
At this stage, the album ventures into new territory. “La Hermosa Noche” is the perfect soundtrack to warm summer nights under the moon. It is highly danceable, making it hard to listen while sitting still. My favorite piece on the album is the soft and velvety “Lights Of Home”. Fans of Kenny G will feel right at home, thanks to Magnuson’s saxophone. I also love Whalen’s piano and synth arrangements; The word perfection comes to mind many times while listening.

The romantic mood continues on “Memories Of You”. Yet again the 1980s seem close right down to the analog synths, but Whalen and friends refine the sound to such an extent that it even leaves the 2020s behind.

Where is the shock factor, you might ask. Well, crank the volume up, and “Poly Jam” will do the trick. Its “in your face” rock & roll attitude is deeply refreshing, especially for people who mostly listen to meditative music. Notice the gentle opening and how the sound just explodes. I love the jam aspect; the touch of improvisation is delightful. It is impossible to tell where this is going to end.

Miracle Mile
After the heavy “Poly Jam”, “Miracle Mile” takes the album back on track. The cool sax and high-spirited synth keys are terrific. Its genre-defying nature is simply mind-blowing, a miracle for sure. “Morning Song” is an uncomplicated piece. It is actually fascinating; notice how it is Whalen’s synths that take the “Morning Song” into the 2020s and beyond. It is so fresh and vibrant.

True to its name, “Wanderlust” makes this reviewer’s Covid19 quarantine borderline unbearable. At least it takes the mind on an epic voyage; Its build-up is out-of-this-world amazing. It is so intricate and high-flying that I found myself replaying it repeatedly, appreciating and admiring each segment.

The album lands smoothly with “Your Eyes, Your Touch, Your Kiss”. It is a “Kenny G’s sax meets Yanni’s piano” kind of moment, where you end up feeling thankful that it is Whalen that is in charge – not missing the curls nor the mustache. It is all original and fresh.

In conclusion: “Future Shock” by Michael Whalen is a spectacular and arresting release, especially so in the age of Covid19. Its energy levels are off the roof, and each piece is a firework of creativity, well-crafted melodies, and interesting arrangements. Even for people not into jazz fusion, its harmonic qualities will work well in just about any playlist.

It does not come as a shock that Michael Whalen has delivered another winner. More surprising is its qualities, which is the musical equivalent of time travel. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself; it will blow your hat off!

For more information and music samples, visit michaelwhalen.com