Gentle Art Of Music [Release Date: 14.02.14]
Frequency Drift have been at the zenith of Europe’s purveyors of melancholic progressive rock for a few years now – their previous two releases, ‘Ghosts’ (2011) and ‘Laid To Rest’ (2012) were both fabulous trips into prog’s laid-back, widescreen wilderness and both earned top star ratings (q.v.).
So it was with some trepidation that the band’s latest waxing, ‘Over’ was loaded into the player – would it live up to previous efforts? Will they have changed their sound?
I needn’t have worried. From the opening violin/viola/cello refrain of opener ‘Run’ to the beautiful electric harp run-out of closer ‘Disappeared’ the band have not only surpassed the magnificence of the previous albums but have pushed on with an ever greater harmonic and rhythmic variety to produce a cinematic masterpiece.
The sound has changed slightly – there’s a little more aggression here and there, especially in the stunning guitar work of Andreas and Christian Hack – but the overall mood is one of ethereal soundscapes drifting along, occasionally punctuated by a burst of guitar, a trill of flute, a thrum of acoustic or electric harp, a piano fill to die for or even a bit of marimba and, yes, harpsichord.
All of this would be great as just an instrumental album, but when the heavenly vocals of new singer Isa Fallenbacher are added to the mix the superlatives dry up.
She’s an amalgam of three of the finest female vocalists on the progressive scene at the moment – Christina Booth (Magenta), Olivia Sparnenn (Mostly Autumn) and, particularly, Anne-Marie Helder (Panic Room) and she just nails it – whether it be a gentle timbre or an occasional full-throated vocal she’s always in control, always striking the right tone.
Despite clocking in at over one and a quarter hours, the album’s delights pass by far too quickly.
Highlights abound and every track has its own style and personality, though the true highpoint for me is the Floyd/Anathema mash-up of ‘Once’ but, truth be told, such is the quality it could easily have been any one of the twelve tracks here.
For fans of the quieter end of the progressive rock spectrum you will not hear anything better than this – its rarefied, lonesome, windswept soundscapes elevate you to an otherworldly, better place – and you can’t ask for anything more from music than that.
Review by Alan Jones
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PAPA ROACH Periscope (Eleven Seven Music)
SAMARKIND Sun Stroke Heart (indie)
NINE MILES SOUTH White Lines (Indie)
MIKE ANDERSEN This Time (Nordic Music Society)
SLYDOGS How Animal Are You (indie)
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12:00-13:00 INGLORIOUS II (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 LISBEE STAINTON Then Up (Marionet Music)
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