Janelle Monae proves over and over again that she just doesn’t bring something to the table, she brings her own table, place settings and honored guests on The Arch Android. How she is able to distill well over 250 years of musical history into her own fresh palette of sounds is beyond me, but one thing is for certain in all the chaos that is otherwise known as the music industry circa 2010 The Arch Android provides us with some long overdue order.

See, if you’re going to make an album, make an album. This is an album and any album that you continue to revisit should have a cohesive theme but within that theme should be variety, surprises and ultimately an experience. It’s almost like Janelle Monae said I’m going to study the arc of some of the greatest albums of all time and transmute them into my own creativity to prove that making a great album can still be done.

Janelle Monae also proves that if you listen, you will hear. What do I mean? I mean that if you listen very closely to The Arch Android you will hear just about every major movement of music from Western European Classical to Bebop, Latin, Rock, Soul, Hip-Hop and beyond. But the beauty of this listening experience is realizing that Janelle had to listen first and study and absorb these disparate styles then construct her own musical narrative.

What I enjoy the most about The Arch Android is its individuality. Isn’t that what music is supposed to be about? This music is unafraid, unapologetic and unpredictable. This is the part where I might be so bold to say that maybe the problem that we’ve been having is that somehow we’ve allowed an atmosphere to fester that is conducive to musical cowardliness, where everyone sits around and just tries to sound like what’s safe and salable. Not Janelle Monae.

Standout tracks? The whole set. Would you watch the first 55 mins. of The Godfather and have the true experience, Fredo? Seriously, just like a movie I would love for you to purchase your ticket(CD or Download) sit on the couch or in your favorite chair and just hit play and listen. Don’t talk on the phone, don’t text or tweet, just close your eyes and listen and watch the drama unfold. You owe it to yourself to experience this music in that manner at least once. This is not music of the background variety.

Janelle Monae’s The Arch Android available now!

Check out Janelle Monae live from her performance in Atlanta last month!

P.S. While we were discussing this project last night at our GFM staff meeting I had a final thought about how to describe the music of Janelle Monae. Listening to the music of Janelle Monae is like going to Graduate School while listening to some of her contemporaries is like still being in Junior High.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.