Frank Ocean + Superchunk | Tracks
A wandering dream shifts from Egyptology to the strip club in Frank Ocean’s cool epic. Superchunk schools bands on how to sing of school being out.
Published: June 20, 2012
R&B is not known for its prog opuses, so this ten-minute epic dazzles on audacity alone. The narrative of “Pyramids” flows as a dream would, hazily skipping from scene to scene with hypnagogic logic, like Finnegans Wake with more strippers. It begins in the Egyptian desert, with cheetahs and thieves on the prowl. Ocean is a pharaoh drunk on Cleopatra, her bronze skin and cashmere hair. He longingly sings of her over Jheri-curl funk—slap bass, backwards drum beats and oscillating synthesizer arpeggios. He discovers his queen with another man. She ends up dead. Though he’s associated with Odd Future, his involvement in the violence is left uncertain. “Cleopatra, Cleopatra,” Ocean mourns. Soon we are in a strip club, the Pyramid, as the music shifts beneath our feet to a Tangerine Dream, flying toward another pyramid, the skyscrapers in Blade Runner. The song slowly fades away with a neon guitar solo at dawn. Fortunately, you can dive back in.