At long bloody last, Frank Ocean looks to be up to something.
Frank’s website, boysdontcry.co, was updates this morning to include a live-stream of… well, currently just an empty room. Interestingly (sort of), it’s an Apple Music live-stream, hinting that ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ - that long-rumoured, even-longer-awaited new album - will be exclusive to the platform.
Someone should buy the fella a calendar really, seeing as it’s August now, and he sort of promised to release it in July, but as long as we get it, we’ll let him off.
Update: Artist Francis Soriano has staked claim to the stream, labelling it a “Video art project I directed” in a hastily-deleted Instagram post (below).
Also, take a look at that address - 1 Infinite Loop. That’s Apple HQ in Silicon Valley, ‘fyi’. We get it mate, you’re pals with Apple now.
A look back at video collaborator Francis Soriano’s Instagram shows that he and Frank Ocean have been working on *something* together for quite some time. Way back in November 2013, he posted a picture of Frank and enigmatic producer Rick Rubin, in front of a snazzy looking sports car. The very same car appears in Frank Ocean’s live visuals.
Soriano has continued to post all kinds of sports car related imagery on both Instagram and Tumblr since then. And THEN, Soriano also posted a picture of Frank Ocean skipping stones in May last year! What can it all mean?
We’d put our money on some sort of super-intricate visual collaboration between Frank Ocean and Francis Soriano, tbh.
Update (2:00pm GMT): HERE WE BLOODY GO. There’s a loop of music playing over the stream, and they’ve changed room. Some bloke’s cutting wood - looks like this live stream’s stopped looping and is finally Actually Live too.
Update (2:35pm GMT): The odd, ambient noises have been replaced by something that sounds an awful lot like An Actual Song.
Loads of strings, the odd rumble of bass here and there. It’s beautiful, really. Boys do cry.
Update (2:40pm GMT): FRANK JUST SAT ON A CHAIR. He’s back up now, though. Please, Frank, no more wood cutting.
Update (2:44pm GMT): Oh good, back to the wood.
Update (2:48pm GMT): More new noises - these ones sound a awful lot like videogame console start-up sounds. Much like the start of ‘Channel Orange’, as it happens. Any geeks in the house?
Also, viewing the source of the page brings up the option to download the video playlist file of the stream. It’s titled “Champaign”. Potential album title? Who even knows anymore.
Update (2:55pm GMT): The camera angle’s changed again - this time we’re back to the first one, but Frankie boy’s still cutting wood.
He’s cut an awful lot of it, to be fair - there’s a big stack of wooden squares in front of him.
Update (3:05pm GMT): More new music - this time a lovely bit of acoustic guitar.
In addition, bringing up the CSS source code of the site throws up this image - titled ‘Frank Ocean 2014’, it’s probably not ‘new new’, but it is a never before seen image of Frank. Or half of his face, at least.
You can also see it was taken in 2013, by a Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70 lens. If that means anything to you.
Reddit points out that he’s drinking a can of Asahi, the Japanese beer. Apart from it being Massively Illegal And Bad to drink and drive, we endorse this particular choice of lager.
Update (3:40pm GMT): Erm. It appears someone has been teaching Frank Ocean how to build a staircase.
A Twitter thread (see below) from @mishkwan appears to suggest as much. At the time, this ‘guy in a bar’ was dismissed as someone telling a fib. Turns out, he might be right. Is this it? Is Frank Ocean building a staircase? This is going to take forever.
Update (3:49pm GMT): Another lovely bit of ambient, instrumental music just started playing.
Sounds like Chromatics but with flutes. You know the sort.
Update (5:30pm GMT): It’s been a bit quiet of late, but FRANK JUST STARTED USING A WHOLE NEW TYPE OF SAW.
It looks like he’s cutting metal now. Sparks are flying. Literally.
Update (5:55pm GMT): Someone’s gone and figured out what that washing machine-looking thing in the background is.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not a washing machine. It’s actually a 2002 installation by artist Tom Sachs, titled Toyan’s, as Complex points out. Frank and Tom are friends, apparently - a supposed Frank Ocean listening party took place at his 245 Bodega space, and Tom’s SXSW boombox installation featured a playlist curated by Frank himself.
Update (Day 2, 2:15pm): He’s back to work again.
This time around, there’s a close-up camera angle. He’s wearing a Jesus and Mary Chain t-shirt too. The trendy bugger.
(Still cutting things, yes.)
Update (Day 2, 2:48pm): More new ambient sounds.
They’re starting to sound more and more like songs, ‘fwiw’.
Update (Day 4, 9.02am): Frank’s back in the workshop nice and early.
Like those song snippets, everything’s coming together. Blocks of wood are being formed into boxes. Frank’s got the PVA glue out. He’s also wearing a Playboy jumper. Fair enough mate.
Given a new album is due tomorrow, this might explain why he’s turned up for work six hours earlier than usual. Deadlines are a shitter.
Update (Day 4, 14:31pm): Is the album imminent?
The shift was short, but in the time he was welding, he played a few pieces of new music. One is thought to be a John Mayer version of Lionel Richie’s ‘Say You, Say Me’. Snippets that were played a couple of days before now sound more fully-formed.
As for the crafty stuff, Frank’s been glueing bits of wood together, assembling boxes instead of that rumoured staircase.
The video stream itself is also slightly glitchy, almost like it’s an old film roll expiring. Some speckles of colour seem to be appearing. There’s even been a glimpse of orange, in a nod to the last LP.
Update (Day 4, 11:10pm): It’s happening!
The pieces are coming together (although there’s an awful lot of spare wood). Frank Ocean’s had a nap, probably had some eggs, he’s put on a David Bowie t-shirt, and now he’s back in the game. This time, those wooden blocks are being slotted together. He’s actually making something! It’s… a box! Sod the staircase. Frank’s always been one to think outside the box, but now he’s making one. That’s just great. Ok mate, so where’s the album forcryingoutloudjustgiveittousplease.
Update (Day 5, 00:12 am): Oh fucking hell
It actually is a staircase. Frank’s done it. Well done Frank, now all you need to do is walk up the thing and chuck some CDs in the air and we’ll all be done with this.
Update (Day 5, 08:35am): People are literally watching paint dry.
Has it come to this? It has. Look, if the reputable fact-checkers and professional hacks at the New York Times said Frank Ocean’s album was coming out this Friday, it’s bloody well coming out this Friday. Which leaves us in a baffling situation, whereby we’re staring at all these boxes Frank’s made (and painted overnight, nice one mate, you’re full of tricks), hoping - praying - that this harrowing black-and-white workshop, now permanently etched into our brains, will produce something of worth. Like an album, maybe. An album containing songs. Not just a fucking staircase.