- A pandemic retrospective that sees the house stalwart moving farther away from the dance floor than ever before.
- Colin McBean has never been one to shy away from his feelings, exploring nearly every facet of the emotional spectrum across his decade-spanning career. The highs are as high as they come (I mean, does anyone in dance music even look like they're having as much fun as him?), but the lows are equally captivating and raw—his tribute to the passing of his father on Personal Momentz is about as touching and poignant a dance album as there is. As McBean has said himself, "I'm quite an emotional person. Every track I've ever written has a title that I can relate to something." Scrolling through the track names on his latest album, The Forced Force Is Not The True Force, a three-LP opus for Childhood Records, these are clearly songs written in pandemic lockdown mode: "Meditative State," "The Blues," and even a refrain we've all said over the past 18 months: "The New Normal." But even with these titles as a preface, the album is still a surprise, as McBean ventures the furthest from the dance floor he ever has on this deeply introspective and mournful record.
While there's still some of the eternal funk that seems embedded in McBean's DNA (check the dub chords on "Still Life Talkin' v2" or the rolling drug chug of "Meditative State (reflective)"), the music here is, if not elegiac, definitely dark and brooding. Maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise. In his RA Exchange McBean explained, "My first love is ballads." And many of the songs on The Forced Force Is Not The True Force have a ballad-like quality to them. These songs fit into two varieties. On the one hand, we have the more traditional overcast house tracks. On "The Blues" he interpolates a snippet from a blues track to mirror the lilting synth. And even when he turns to vocal samples from the disco, soul, and funk that he typically mines, there's a sepia-washed sadness.
McBean's subdued emotional state also brings him to some brand new sounds. The closing track "Search" is what it might sound like if Burial and Oneohtrix Point Never teamed up to compose funeral music. "Life's Cycle" paints a similar mood, with just the faintest hints of light as a whistled melody from a half-remembered past slowly comes into focus over a series of hallowed notes. Even "Tropical HiFi" barely lives up to its piña colada-evoking name. There are no maraschino cherries, just dark corridors and rattling synths.
Mr. G is one of the most reliable house producers around, but he's also the rare kind that understands how to put together a proper album. Sequenced carefully, The Forced Force Is Not The True Force is a rewarding, if somewhat morose and sometimes challenging, listen. The Mr. G persona that McBean has cultivated over the past three decades is easy to caricature, mistaking affability for simplicity of sound—this LP is a reminder of the depths of his emotional and sonic range.
01. Still Life Talkin' v1
02. Meditative State (Mantra)
03. The Blues
04. Future World
05. Basement Jam 9
06. Lifes Cycle
07. Tropical Hifi
08. New Normal
09. Meditative State (reflective)
11. Still Life Talkin' v2