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Frequency Drift: ...Laid To Rest

Rating albums isn't an easy job. Take ...Laid To Rest, the third full release from Germany's Frequency Drift as a prime example. Listened to in the correct frame of mind, this languid affair swoops, swoons and oozes with class, providing six lengthy tracks (the shortest clocks in at 7:44, the longest 15:25, beating its nearest rival by a mere second) that seduce and cajole through sparse, eerie instrumentation and the beautiful, super-controlled vocals of Antje Auer. A lady who posses one of those voices that melts hearts and unlocks minds. However approached with a less serene temperament, suddenly Frequency Drift loosen their grasp on your imagination and concentration, coming across as amazingly one paced and samey across the hour and bit presented here. Even after eight or nine listens to this album I am completely torn as to whether it is a masterpiece, or thoroughly flawed and in truth, because of this I've had to plump for somewhere in between.

...Laid To Rest is never bad, never boring, or any less than spell binding, but it does have to be borne in mind that for those who need a tempo change, a lot of light and shade, or grand scene changing focus shifts, you are going to struggle here. While those willing to be eased along on glorious, reserved, plaintive guitar lines, low key, if always sultry and persuasive vocals, or the infusion of flute, clarinet or harp to embellish the more expected instrumentation, will be hailing this album as a classic right from the off. Obviously I'm somewhere in between and can see both sides of the argument, with songs such as "Wish" both managing to whisk me off on a sea of stunning guitar work and harmonious harp, while still on occasion make me wonder how long the song has left before I might hear something a little different - although to be fair the odd guitar burst does shatter the atmosphere. "Cold" with its reliance on repeated vocals to build the tension on a song that intentionally remains at walking pace falls into exactly the same category. These two songs are the lengthiest tracks on the album, but the short-ish "Ice", where at least a cascade of noise does build in places to offset the flute passages and "Parted" suffer from the same fate. Although the problem is possibly more to do with the small amount of variety from song to song, rather than within each individual offering.

Stunning in places, I have no qualms in suggesting that to some Laid To Rest will be a contender for album of the year. However I can't pretend that some prog lovers won't be bored to tears at the similarly styled fare on show. Me? I'm still torn and while I can see myself listening to this on occasion, it will never reach the classic status that others will bestow upon it.

Track Listing
1. Dead
2. Parted
3. Cold
4. Wish
5. Ice
6. Copper

Added: October 15th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Frequency Drift Online
Hits: 3528
Language: english

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Frequency Drift: ...Laid To Rest
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-10-15 07:35:19
My Score:

Classifying itself as "cinematic progressive rock," virtuosic septet Frequency Drift certainly has a specific goal in mind: to create angelic, ominous atmospheres full of emotionally gripping timbres and captivating melodies. Fortunately, on their newest LP, Laid to Rest, they accomplish all of this with ease. Although its length (seventy minutes) leads to some tedium and repetition, for the most part, the six tracks contained are nothing short of magnificent, haunting, and extremely moody.

Sharing a touch of morbid melodic focus with The Gathering, an orchestral majesty with Orphaned Land, and a sense of theatrical elegance with Claudio Milano's Nichelodeon, the group crafts and performs with a shared mind. Each track combines beautifully brittle vocals (courtesy of Nicole Scharnagl), intense percussion, and a clash between foreboding and delicate timbres. This is an album that requires deep focus and several listens to be appreciated fully.

Opening track "Dead" (optimistic, right?) soars thanks to its tribal rhythms, Middle Eastern string arrangements, scared arpeggios, and devastating melodies. Like the rest of the album, it possesses a powerful grace that's rarely seen in music these days, and also like the rest of the album, each of its movements offers something splendid and sorrowful. "Parted" is a bit less tense and more commercial, but it's still housed within classical shells. As for the two longest tracks (each comes in at a bit over fifteen minutes), they're absolutely breathtaking. The way the electric guitar and keyboard work complements the more traditional sounds is fantastic, and the dynamic shifts are incredible. "Ice" closes with an especially intense and affective moment; really, it's very reminiscent of Gazpacho's most recent work. In fact, if you've heard the closing of their latest album, March of Ghosts, much of this album will sound familiar (although Frequency Drift focuses more on grandiose arrangements and less on distinct, encompassing songwriting). Album closer "Copper" finishes the set off with great vibrancy and heartache, and the closing section evokes the most fragile moments of Kate Bush's early work.

All in all, Laid to Rest is awe-inspiring. I've rarely heard music so simultaneously epic, refined, classical, devastating, and lavish. Although the music can get a bit tiresome after a while due to its repeated traits and styles, it's still an absolutely incredible piece. Frequency Drift doesn't create mere music; they create auditory art, and this album will likely leave you speechless.

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