Genre-Bending Producer Manic Focus Unveils Emotional, Seventh Studio Album ‘Never Not Blue’
By Akshay Bhanawat – March 16, 2023 0
Denver-based producer Manic Focus is an artist of many talents.
As a magician, he uses sleight of hand to pull objects out of thin air. As an electronic artist, he executes similarly impossible sonic acts with his vibrant, genre-defying music. But his strengths lie not only in the musical and magical: what also makes Manic Focus stand apart is his mental triumphs.
Diagnosed with Bipolar 1 in 2007, Manic Focus has experienced several manic and depressive episodes – experiences that directly inspired his artist name. Instead of preventing him from working, his Bipolar diagnosis became a driving factor in his creative processes, an obstacle he’s had to navigate towards a product of endless musical ingenuity.
Manic Focus’ unique style – defined by a hybrid of electronic, funk, soul, and hip-hop – has helped the producer cultivate a fervent fanbase captivated by his immersive studio trickery and vibrant creative spirit – a combination that has led him to performances at festivals such as Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Hulaween, North Coast Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Camp Bisco, Wakaan Festival, Summer Camp Music Festival, and multiple opening slots at Red Rocks in support of Zhu, Emancipator, Pretty Lights, and more.
Now, Manic Focus releases his 7th studio album, ‘Never Not Blue’, a new full-length project that showcases the producer’s vast growth as a multi-genre artist, including songs with the blues-infected electronic style of his earlier work as well as a wide range of modern bass music influences.
Having consistently evolved over the past decade, fleshing out his sound to incorporate new approaches to genre, songwriting, and composition, Manic Focus’ new album is an amalgamation of the various styles and sounds he’s explored over the years. In many ways, ‘Never Not Blue’ is a career retrospective – a look back at where Manic Focus began, and just how far he’s come.
‘Never Not Blue’ conveys what a manic episode feels like, putting listeners on an exclusive journey through Manic Focus’ interior world. Bombastic, dancey, heavy, and chaotic – this new LP is a holistic representation of Manic Focus’ artistry and journey. To tie together the album’s narrative, Manic Focus wrote interlude tracks that represent various stages of a manic episode – “Acute Mania,” “Delirious Mania,” “Healing Stage.” These tracks give context to the LP’s thematic content and provide a cohesive thread across the tracklist.
Listeners got their first taste of ‘Never Not Blue’ with the album’s lead single, “You Do You,” an epic bass-infused cut that introduced this new Manic Focus era in explosive fashion. Next, he released “Over The Sun,” a heavy and emotional bass track; “Blamma,” a rowdy and immersive dubstep experience; and “Brassive Attack,” a hip-hop and electronic-infused latin-pop track with producer/trumpeter Balkan Bump (who rose to prominence after working with Gramatik and Talib Kweli) and Colombian singer Chika Di.
The rest of ‘Never Not Blue’ is full of similarly evocative, boundary-pushing tracks – such as “Good Intentions,” a euphoric cut with emotional melodies and heart-tugging vocal samples.
The LP kicks off with “Synchronization,” a cinematic opener that sees Manic Focus describing his Bipolar diagnosis over sweeping string arrangements before dropping into a raucous dubstep breakdown. Next is “illa Mind,” a blues-inflected electronic cut featuring producer/guitarist Marvel Years. “illa Mind” is filled to the brim with twangy guitar licks, fuzzy drum programming, electro-swing synth melodies, and infectious vocal samples – a lavish mix of genres and sounds.
The journey continues: “Trouble” transitions away from dirt covered roads to a frenzied futuristic landscape. Imbuing its icy presentation with industrial sound design and fast-paced bass synth riffs, “Trouble” exemplifies the versatile nature of ‘Never Not Blue’. There’s also “Here For It,” an atmospheric, trap-infused future bass track with stuttering high-hats and wobbly bass tones.
‘Never Not Blue’ is then rounded out by the ethereal “Introverted” and the elegant, uplifting “Buoyant,” capping off a dynamic tracklist that keeps listeners on their toes from start to finish.
‘Never Not Blue’ is a grand musical statement that cements Manic Focus as a defining voice in electronic music. It’s also an inspiring testament to the producer’s work ethic and ability to persevere through – as the title suggests – life’s daily struggles.
Fans can check out Manic Focus on tour, where he’ll be playing ‘Never Not Blue’ tracks at stops such as Red Rocks and Summer Camp Music Festival.