Frank Ocean spent Monday building suspense and, maybe, furniture. Early in the morning, the singer’s website began streaming video of a warehouse-like room equipped with carpentry workbenches and speakers. Someone who appears to be Ocean showed up around 9 a.m. and began sawing up wooden boards. Later, he drilled holes and cut up metal poles. Now and again, he’d stop working to check his phone or drink water. Throughout, instrumental music would play or the camera would switch angles. Shortly after 1 p.m., he left the room, though as of now the stream is still going.
Fans have been transfixed, but less by what was happening on camera than what it might be leading to. Boys Don’t Cry, the follow-up album to 2012’s hugely acclaimed Channel Orange, has been promised for years now. A library-card image posted on his website earlier this summer acknowledged that many promised release dates had been blown by, and seemed to indicate that something would happen in July 2016. Note that the video—which might simply symbolize that he’s still working on the album—arrived early on August 1.
For Ocean to respond to deafening fan demand for new music with a broadcast this unexciting is not quite “trolling,” a term that connotes malice and insincerity, someone grabbing attention simply to have it. Whatever Ocean’s day of carpentry signifies, it seems quite in line with who he is as an artist: his desire to counteract 2010s noise and bustle, his disinterest in compromise, his silence.