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Frost*: Falling Satellites

Jem Godfrey needs Frost*, less than we need Frost*. The singer and songwriter an award winning popular music composer who can pick up gigs with the likes of Joe Satriani, such is his deftness on keyboards. Hence in a way it's more of a surprise that it hasn't taken the man longer to return his band to the studio than the eight years it has. So lets eschew the questions of why and simply revel in the fact he and his band have created Falling Satellites.

Flanked by what is now the solid trio that completes the (reduced to a) four piece line-up of John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena, Lonely Robot) on guitars, Nathan King (Level 45) on bass and Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson) on drums, Godfrey seems to have found middle ground; Falling Satellites proudly staying true to the modern, British prog of the band's Milliontown debut, while keen to keep the boundaries pushed out that follow up Experiments In Mass Appeal first stretched. What it all makes for is a collection of songs happy to know that it can verge into pop territory, while mischievously sitting squarely in the kingdom of out and out prog. Throw in some other elements and Falling Satellites likes to shock, it likes to surprise and loves to entertain.

At one end of the scale comes a 32 minute, 6 part suite that proudly blasts its musical chops loud and proud, all the while keeping them shrouded in mysteriously catchy motifs and restrained passages that somehow sound alien and remote, although still maintain an intimate, welcoming side. Godfrey pulls out the keyboard stops here, his instrument taking equal, if not star billing over Mitchell's guitar. Although that's not to suggest that there aren't some killer riffs and searing solos from the It Bites man and indeed guest star Joe Satriani.

Remembering that they almost invented this sound with their debut, chucking out comparisons feels pointless, instead be happy in the knowledge that Frost* have through "Heartstrings", which dares to be different to the version first revealed on The Rockfield Files and is all the more interesting for it, "Nice Day For It" and "Final Day", created something rather special. While "The Rage Against The Dying Of The Light Blues In 7/8" takes on the subject of staring death in the face as you lose someone you love, in insightful, respectful manner.

However this is just the piece that closes the album out, earlier delectations such as "Numbers" sounding like an example of what would happen if you placed King Crimson and The Police in a compression chamber. Upliftingly weird, or weirdly uplifting? Let's just say it's both and be happy. Mitchell, who has a strong hand in the songwriting throughout, takes on vocal duties for "Signs", any similarities to It Bites coming from that direction, however there's also a Peter Gabriel side to the way the piece constantly reshapes itself, adding layers to the existing themes and then stripping them back. Whereas "Lights Out" finds Tori Beaumont (who Godfrey describes as coming from outside the prog-u-sphere) laying down a simply magnificent vocal on what is a ballad that both powers and pops, but mainly has you standing agog at its beauty.

Elsewhere I've heard the genre 'dance' whispered in the same sentence as Falling Satellites, something I can't really see. However the drums, and especially the 'kick', are recorded/produced/mixed in a distinctly dominant fashion in places. To the extent that at volume, it becomes the 'boom-boom-boom' you often hear from cars playing questionable music, while its driver can't quite work out what way his cap should face. Some may indeed see this as a stumbling block, but for me it serves to heighten and contrast the heady atmospheres the dashing, darting melodies and motifs across this album are delighted to play out.

It's turning into a vintage year for the Inside Out label, the prog masters already behind many, if not the majority of the albums making my 2016 playlist. However this may just top the lot. Frost* have returned, don't decry their lengthy absence, instead simply look to catch their marvellous Falling Satellites.

Track Listing
1. First Day
2. Numbers
3. Towerblock
4. Signs
5. Lights Out 

6. Heartstrings

7. Closer To The Sun 

8. The Raging Against The Dying Of The Light Blues In 7/8 

9. Nice Day For It... 

10. Hypoventilate 

11. Last Day

Added: July 8th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Frost* Life
Hits: 2891
Language: english

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Frost*: Falling Satellites
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-07-08 09:27:30
My Score:

A few years ago, renowned UK producer and musician Gem Godfrey wanted to make music with a little more substance. He had been dabbling in pop music for a number of years so it must have been time for a change. Godfrey acquired forty 'prog' CDs to get his mind wrapped around the music and when he was ready he contacted and enlisted some well-known progressive rock musicians. Thus, Frost was born.

First there was Milliontown released in 2006, followed by Experiments In Mass Appeal in 2008. Now in 2016 we have Falling Satellites, Godfrey's latest opus. In the band are Craig Blundell (drums), Jem Godfrey (vocals, keyboards, railboard, guitar, lap steel, beaumatron), Nathan King (bass) and John Mitchell (vocals, guitar).

All three albums sound quite different and once again Frost choose to look forward while never even glancing at the past. It is this inventive approach to their brand of progressive pop music that is so thrilling. This delectable platter begins with the short "First Day" where waves of keyboards and melodic vocals create a mellow yet dense soundscape. On the addictive "Numbers", crisp keyboards and an urgent beat offer a crystal clear audio image and when the stellar vocal arrangement begins, well, nothing else needs to be said. Perhaps the most talked about song is "Towerblock" starting as a melodic pop song before a dubstep section takes over the party. Remember when your first CD player skipped, well imagine that but amp it up about one hundred times. You really have to hand it to this band as this song came out of left field and really goes a long way to fortify the band's imaginative approach to rock music. Next is the catchy "Signs" which has an uncanny resemblance to Peter Gabriel during the verse followed by the synth pop flavoured "Lights Out" which features another head sticking melody. The heavier bombast of "Heartstrings", part one of the six part suite "Sunlight", keeps things from getting too light. The rest of the suite is just as absorbing, whether it be the ethereal keyboards and Mitchell's biting lead guitar in "Closer To The Sun" or the delightful pop inflected heavy prog of "The Raging Against The Dying Of The Light Blues In 7/8".

Falling Satellites just might be my favourite Frost disc of the bunch, although I really need to dig out Milliontown again. Bottom line this will be on many favourite lists come the end of the year, mine included.

An InsideOut Music release.

Frost*: Falling Satellites
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-05-30 07:22:41
My Score:

Though the years had started to pile up, UK prog act Frost* have finally reappeared with their third release Falling Satallites, an album sure to let their fans know that they've been busy in the interim and that the many years was worth the wait. Not reliant to milk the '70s, Jem Godfrey instead draws from '80s inspiration, as well as modern trance/dance/industrial/dub/techno flavors. You can clearly here that on "Numbers", a sort of Discipline era King Crimson meets The Police's Synchonicity, as well as the raging "Towerblock", with its tumultuous dance, dub, techno & funk grooves. Yet, it's all still prog in the end, which makes it all the more amazing how this band can take such diverse influences & flavors and craft music that continues to appeal to progressive rock fans. "Signs" rocks out a bit more, complete with some thunderous riffs courtesy of John Mitchell and some well placed symphonic keys, and "Heartstrings" is about as addictive as it gets, a bubbling, upbeat number with some additive melodies to go along with fantastic keyboard arrangements. You'll be reminded of Spock's Beard a bit on the kick ass prog tune "The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues in 7/8", and guitar legend Joe Satriani shows up to deliver a stunning solo followed by an equally stunning jaunt from Godfrey on the floating "Closer to The Sun".

It's always refreshing to hear a modern progressive rock album that actually succeeds at sounding 'modern', which Falling Satellites certainly does. Make sure you don't miss this one.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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