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Frequency Drift - Laid To Rest CD (album) cover

LAID TO REST

Frequency Drift

 

Crossover Prog

3.98 | 185 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars Frequency Drift's previous work "Ghosts" was justifiably anointed by a fair share of praise by many prog pundits for its haunting progressive stylings. I was among those who were startled by its shimmering aura, mostly due to Antje Auer's splendidly evocative vocals and some brittle arrangements that were unafraid to express themselves, on electric guitars particularly but also the keyboards of leader Andreas Hack, as well as some thumping rhythms to keep things rolling along. This German band has a very un-German tendency of altering its line-up and on this sublime release, longtime bassist Jürgen Rennecke with the above named stalwarts have retooled the guitar slot (Christian Hack stays on as guest and Seb Koch is gone) with new guy Alex Galimbis, while the drums are now manned by Jasper Jöris. The fantastic violinist is back (which is a very very good thing) as well as the harpist, adding some delightful detail to the overall script.

To say that Laid to Rest is an upgrade is entirely within the realm of the sound emanating from the loudspeakers, a deeper sense of symphonics and wider use of dynamics are now front row center. They are masters of the 15 minute track, as witnessed by the impeccable "Cold" and its poignant follow-up "Wish", the master spine of this brilliant recording. The 9 minute "Ice" and the 12 minute "Copper" finish off in grand style, making this a must-have for fans of cinematographic prog, with lush doses of folk, symphonic and eclectic prog. They propose a curiously successful mixture of traditional folk effects, dabs of electronica (they are German after all) and bluesy rock colorations (especially on lead guitar), stretching the extremes between icy and sizzling. Antje Auer has a crystalline voice of haunting beauty, clearly influenced by legends Kate Bush and Marta Sebestyén , loaded with inflected passion and genuine power.

The über-Saharan feel of "Dead" is evident from the Frank Schmitz' tortuous violin entrance , welded to the breathless voice, furthered along by the dreamy keys and killed off by a bluesy electric guitar solo that seeks only to retain the track's intent towards a sense of purity. This sounds highly Arabic when the lush clarinet puts its own two cents worth but resolutely modern when the synths and the clanging harp kick in. Bloody marvelous, I say! "Parted" has a more medieval feel, soon bolstered by a funky bass stick and chaka-chaka riffs, sultrier violin and elegant piano as well as some profound singing. To prove how good the rest of the album is, this is its weakest track and yet most enjoyable!

"Cold" is a stunner! A tremendous slice of musical genius that has all the tools to become a prog classic, voice and piano to begin and then plunges into the sublime, a dense, deeply atmospheric, trippy voyage in the most original sense. Antje's plaintive execution is child- like and sorrowful , the lyrics are movingly unpleasant "Cold is the finger of the dead" she intones, as the beat becomes intense , bass shuffles menacingly and the pounding rhythms escort the whistling synth solo. This is prog nirvana! A song from the crypt, ghoulish and satanic, as witnessed by the wily violin, ripping magically like some former flute (The Magic Flute?), the result devastating and masterful. At its center, the mood swerves into a tough edge, utterly melancholic and hypnotic with Antje returning to the microphone, wailing convincingly her cemetery epitaph. This is a glorious symphonic bath that one needs to luxuriate in, excited by the bubbling thrill of it all. Yeah, "cold is the finger of the dead". Relentlessly expressed. Wow!

The Floydian "Wish" is even spookier, cracked and hushed voice among the numerous effects, as the rolling bass moves this theme gently forward , devilishly restrained and then, BAM!, the lead guitar carves out a simple melody that soars and scours the skies, laden with profound feeling and angst (a deadly prog duo when done right). This gets heavier when Antje goes furiously ahead, ebb and flow with "creep into my narrow bed", the choir- like synths and the general bombast are to expunge over! The clarinet then makes a welcome and lengthy apparition, rivulets of romantic wind and forlorn piano. And of course, a blitzy guitar solo to send this one into the horizon. Deadly stuff! As if that wasn't enough jubilation, panting voice and Celtic harp do a little number and the gloomy beauty now becomes pervasive, blasting another axe solo searching in the presence of some thoughtful aura. Back and forth between serene and neurotic, the segments bounce around like a Boris Becker serve, keeping the listener in awed anticipation of what may come next. Unpredictable, creative, bold and structured all at the same time, this is a prog mind at work here, sounding like nothing else I have ever heard. It may be too sedate for the metalloids out there but the sheer quality of the arrangements and the restrained brilliance of the players are beyond the norm.

"Ice" is daringly bluesier, strings in tense symphonic explosion and a more conventional vocal performance that relies only on its own merits, weaving a prickly melody that transcends the border between Medieval and Gothic , a colossal tidal wave of strings spin a web of delight (that's imagery for you!) and finally overcomes any distant listener to its knees! I could listen to this all day. Swells of synthesized emotion careening over the edge. The finale is heavy, big fat bass growling in Wagnerian stringed fury, kick ass all the way. When the lead melody returns, it's just breathtaking! You have to hear this to believe it.

"Copper" has a traditional northern European feel , Antje howling in the wind, passionately involved and a musical backdrop that keeps the structure in tight unison and free creativity. A lovely heart-felt ballad that suddenly veers into a totally alternate realm, a second section that dares to experiment sonically, synths groaning audaciously. Then, a whopping Gilmourian solo screeches through the clouds and BAM! The whole song just bloomed into another level of depth, cinematographic big time. Some Celtic harp within a baroque setting veers the song into more Southern European climes, a feat that is clearly not something the musical Germans do well historically, proving that the country has really become a more open society , hungry to expand their intellect and their artistic expression. The hard-edged violin solo is another step in their magical staircase. . The finale infuses those folk tendencies that litter this release, a slight Eastern European/Gypsy/ Middle Eastern feel, abetted by slithering violins and a slew of quarter tone meanderings. The hard-edged violin solo is another step in their magical staircase. .

A tour de force that will consecrate this fine band once and for all as a prog leader. All potential doubts will be 'laid to rest' for good! Fans of Iona (though their last one was terribly disappointing), Karnataka, Mostly Autumn and folk/symph prog will LOVE this!

5 event floats

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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