Sir Froderick is a producer from Philadelphia, and on his latest release he’s teamed up with the French label Cascade Records. The project in question is an instrumental hip hop album that tells the tale of, in the words of the label, “…a story about a nomad that got a little money, [who’s] been playing the backseat all his life. Traveling with just a guitar and a pack of smokes, taking heavy inhales of lah on stressful times. Thinking about his past, but looking forward to the future. He is on the road to return to greatness with new friends and family, slowly claiming his space and gaining his ‘swagger’ back. Only to end in tragedy?”

It’s not a story we’ve haven’t heard before, but it’s still intriguing, and one that hasn’t necessarily been told in this particular format, which is where the real challenge lies. Froderick keeps the vocals on the album to a minimum, with Vinnie Radio providing the only moment where an emcee is front and center. The rest of the time we’re left to the production of Froderick and collaborators Morpheground, TimeWharp, Swarvy, and mndsgn. The album opens with the one-two punch of “thingsIdo08” and “megitarpt3,” which use some disjointed funk and psychedelic and soul samples to set the tone. “megitarpt3” spells things out a bit for listeners with vocals singing, “got a little money,” and “staying in backseat, playing my guitar.” Things take a sharp turn with “inhale,” with the tempo decidedly slower, and the instrumentation much more reliant on synthesizers, with a keyboard melody floating on top of everything else. “Nine” brings in Vinnie Radio, who has a chance as an emcee to provide a unique perspective to an instrumental album that’s trying to convey a certain story. However, his rhymes and delivery, while not bad, don’t really bring anything special to the mix. If it was just a track on a regular album, I probably wouldn’t think twice about it, but it seems a little odd in this context that more wasn’t made of the situation to really develop the story. “returnofthedoodoomonster94” is possibly the oddest track on the album, in that it takes a really beautiful down tempo track and places some samples (can’t place it) of someone talking about taking a shit. I’m really left scratching my head trying to figure out what that has to do with anything. “makeafamily” seems to get us back on track, in terms of the concept of the album, and it allows for a new dimension when Froderick channels some sexy early ‘80s R&B. The album continues with some pretty and introspective instrumental tracks, which play out nicely and lend themselves to some open interpretation as things wind down.

Overall, The Brief Wondrous is a good album of interesting and enjoyable instrumental hip hop. However, placing the concept and story onto the album raise expectations, and Sir Froderick doesn’t quite meet them. Some tracks feel right on point, some could be on any album, and one track completely derails the narrative. It’s decent, but it could have been so much better.