Felix da Housecat


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A mysterious album produced by Felix Stallings Jr. in 1995, but not seeing the light of day until 2002, Rocketmann! was produced as a soundtrack to an imaginary blaxploitation film. To that end, it is a dark and brooding affair, with brief musical movements juxtaposed against more complete tracks. "Nitebeams" and "Astropod" are heavy on sonic ambience while short on the type of groove or hook that Stallings is known for. Even the epic centerpiece that is the title track moves slowly through waves of dark synths and chattering bleeps. With 20/20 hindsight, it is easy to spot Stallings' new wave fetish that would manifest itself on his breakthrough album Kittenz and Thee Glitz, although only "Black Hole" and "Galactikka 1071" have any of the obvious analog keyboard pulse. And those still lack the toughen dance beats needed to be club hits. "Cyber Talk" and "Stars We Saved" also harken a decade back, but the former with industrial intentions and the latter as a space-age R&B slow jam. The fact that industrial originators Cabaret Voltaire and Nitzer Ebb saw a rush of remixes at the turn of the millennium while IDM supergroup Super_Collider have further explored the idea of a techno crooner only again goes to show just how prophetic Stallings was in 1995. Those who mistake Rocketmann! for a follow-up to Kittenz will probably be disappointed by the lack of slamming synth jams. But as a historical marker in the evolution of an acclaimed artist, it's astounding just how ahead of the curve Felix really is.

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