Stepping out of the shadows with a gentle, flute-born melody, Les Fradkin’s “System Crash” doesn’t start off with a lot of fireworks, but don’t let this initially soft introduction fool you – what’s about to come pouring out of these speakers is as potent as anything the legendary player has put his name on thus far. After some five decades in the business, Fradkin isn’t slowing down anytime soon as a professional recording artist, and if there was ever any doubt as to whether or not he could hold his own with some of the best in the business to this day, I think his latest performance in “System Crash” should be more than enough to silence the critics and welcome a new generation of fans to his sound.

When the vocal does find its way into the mix here, it’s rather unintimidating – much like the music behind it is – but it doesn’t take very long for it to become the warmest and most intoxicating agent of evocation in the track. I like that while Fradkin isn’t afraid to give us as much love behind the mic as he can muster, he isn’t overstating his verses in this performance at all whatsoever – if anything, he’s actually doing a really find job of letting the instrumental tonalities in the backdrop contextualize and define the mood of the music and the statements of his lyrics (no matter how poetically metaphorical they may or may not happen to be in this instance).


Instrumentally, there’s a bit more complexity to the way “System Crash” plays out than there needed to be, but I can also understand why Fradkin wanted to include a little bit of embellishment here; particularly on the backend. The drums and bassline form a hurricane that is unbelievably powerful by the time we wind up in the second act of the single, and while the vocal never matches the thunderous presence of the backing band at this juncture of the song, it doesn’t have to be to continue being the most articulate and openly communicative components of the entire track. That takes a lot more than a loud voice – it requires the kind of experience that comes with having as rich a career and influence as this player has known in his lifetime.

“System Crash” runs just under five minutes in total length, but it doesn’t wear out its welcome at all – it uses every second it’s pumping out of the speakers to wash the audience in affectionate colors not presented to the general public via mainstream pop music often enough in 2020. Les Fradkin has been around the block a couple of times, and though you can’t accuse him of having too broad a futuristic viewpoint in his latest single, it would be criminal to deny the profound sense of confidence he brings to the studio with him in this and every performance we’ve heard out of his camp in the last few years. A true legend of his time, Fradkin does it again in this marvelous new studio cut.

Sebastian Cole