Gentle Art of Music [Release date 13.04.18]
Quite how German cinematic rock band Frequency Drift’s last release Last (2016) slipped through the GRTR! net (after Alan Jones waxing lyrical about the life-reaffirming qualities of Ghosts (2011), Laid To Rest (2012), and Summer (2014)) is something of a mystery. I blame Brexit.
The brainchild of Andreas Hack (keys, synths, guitar, bass, mandolin), the band is something of constantly evolving line-up . Vocalists, in particular, come and go with ‘frequency’.
The core of Hack, Nerissa Schwartz (electric harp, mellotron, synthesisers)and Wolfgang Ostermann (drums, wavedrum) remain from the band’s last outing – Last (2016) – but Irini Axela takes over vocals, it has to be said, almost seamlessly from Melanie Mau and there’s no guitarist or bassist this time around.
As a consequence, the band’s eighth album, is absent of the heavy guitars that permeated Last, giving way to the rhythmic, multi layered, meanderings of Hack and Schwartz. And if the vocals were stripped away you’d be left with some truly ambient cinematic soundscapes.
But Irini Axela’s vocals are hypnotically inviting, adding a melody that take Letters To Maro to another level. Melanie Mau’s vocals were likened to Annie Haslam, and that reference point is just as relevant for Axela, who when added to the mix brings not only Renaissance to mind, but also shades of Magenta, Enya/Clannad, and even Madonna.
Beautifully produced, at times mesmeric, there’s much to admire here. A truly progressive piece of work, that works on any number of levels. ****1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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