Frequency Drift - Last

(CD 2016, 52:48, Gentle Art Of Music GAOM 043)

The tracks:
  1- Traces(7:08)
  2- Diary(5:31)
  3- Merry(5:08)
  4- Shade(5:52)
  5- Treasured(8:25)
  6- Last Photo(7:59)
  7- Hidden(5:34)
  8- Asleep(8:31)

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I must say that I was quite pleased when our main editor sent me this CD for review. I knew Frequency Drift from their self-titled 2007 debut album (an album that features some really cool artwork which tells the story through a comic) and have regarded them as one of the most talented prog bands from Germany ever since. But, as things go, I failed to keep up with their subsequent releases. Thanks for getting me on track again, and now I must make it a priority to catch up with what has happened in the meantime.

Skimming their biography, I see that they in fact did release a handful of albums and went through some line-up changes. Most importantly, they have a new singer which is at least as strong as Katja Hübner from the first disc. The line-up is now: singer Melanie 'Melli' Mau with Martin Schnella (electric and acoustic guitars), Nerissa Schwarz (e-harp, Mellotron), Andreas Hack (keyboards, guitars, Theremin), Rainer Wolf (bass) and Wolfgang Ostermann (drums, percussion and strange sounds).

Their style is described as 'Cinematic Progressive Rock', not in the last place because their early inspiration was from films like Blade Runner and TV series like Lost. I compared them previously to my favourite modern progressive rock group Pure Reason Revolution (oh boy, do I miss them!) because of the way both bands combine progressive rock and modern elements. I think the latter isn't quite as pronounced on this new disc, but the filmic, cinematic aspect is clearly present. Let's take a look at some of the songs.

Opener Traces starts with riffs akin of Pink Floyd's The Wall (think Run Like Hell), but quickly angelic vocals by Melli steer the music in another direction. There's also a very fine keyboard solo (with a Mellotron-like sound). The hymnic Diary is a highlight and one of my favourites, very much so because of the wonderful singing. Intense, and yet in a way 'light'.
Last Photo is a bit of an odd one out. This piece is over some parts extremely heavy. In fact, it's musically close to extreme metal, almost avant-death, but without growls and grunts. And then, suddenly, there is a dreamy part again with flute-like keys and twanging (acoustic) guitar before piano and wonderful clean vocals re-appear. The melancholic piece Hidden has some really cool atmospheres and again Mellotron appears to enhance the sound. In closing piece Asleep Melli suddenly uses the lower registers of her voice which gives a quite special and threatening effect. I think she is singing to us from a dream state. This leads into a dreamy middle section of the song building to the closer of the album with piano, slow rhythm section and dreamy vocals before launching into a biting finale with some soaring electric guitar and a smashing dose of Mellotron.

A great album by a highly talented band. I really have to get those CDs that I missed out on in the meantime!

****- Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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