Frequency Drift -
Letters To Maro

(CD 2018, 60:19, Gentle Art Of Music / Soulfood, GAOM056)

The tracks:
  1- Dear Maro(6:22)
  2- Underground(5:02)
  3- Electricity(4:52)
  4- Neon(6:09)
  5- Deprivation(3:35)
  6- Izanami(5:09)
  7- Nine(6:10)
  8- Escalator(4:26)
  9- Sleep Paralysis(6:03)
10- Who's Master?(9:16)
11- Ghosts When It Rains(3:05)

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The above is the thought I have when I think about this new album from our German friends. Time after time they flick it, and leave the listener amazed after listening to their new work, for 7 albums now. Hats off to Mr. Hack and Mrs. Schwarz, the driving forces behind Frequency Drift.

Where the previous album, Last (2016, see review), sounded a lot heavier, Letters To Maro sounds so mysterious, but more about that later. The band now consists of Irini Alexa (vocals), Andreas Hack (keyboard, synthesizer, guitar, bass, mandolin), Nerissa Schwarz (elctronic harp, mellotron, synthesizer) and Wolfgang Ostermann (drums, wavedrum). So farewell to singer Melanie Mau, bass player Rainer Wolf and guitar player Martin Schnella.

If anyone ask me in which musical box Frequency Drift fits, I can't answer that question in an easy way. For me it is a musical journey that you have to undergo so you can experience for yourself that Frequency Drift can't be put in a box. Are you travelling with me?

The album opens with Dear Maro. You will hear a writing pen and some dejected sounds, it pulls you a bit into melancholy. What will come? After a little while newcomer Irini starts singing, wow, what an incredibly beautiful sound her voice has. She is assisted by the real solid rhythm section. At a given moment Irini sings the word fallen' in a falling way, what an inventive way to bring it in this way to the listener, beautiful. In this song you hear a lot of tempo changes, bombast and there is also room for classical music. At the end of the song there is so much threatening that I can't do anything else than turn the volume to max. This gives me the feeling with a capital F.

Underground opens with some original marimba-like sounds, lovely bass playing, the electronic harp and of course the beautiful voice of Irini. Then it is time for something completely different. Start clapping your hands because Electricity simply asks that. After the intro it's the turn of Nerissa and her harp. The song is overloaded with keys, I hear singing together and it is all about atmosphere.

Neon is a song that has everything in it, from quiet to explosive and back again. You will hear all instruments used on this album in this one, a real challenge to discover.

Izanami has a dreamy intro, a lot of atmosphere. A hard guitar solo, fantastically taken over by the harp in combination with strings after which there is a passage with a futuristic keyboard solo, so great. After this song you stop listening for a few minutes to recover from everything heard so far.

In the song Nine you feel the depths through the cello sounds, you feel the fear in the singing. In Escalator Irini takes on a false role, which suits her perfectly. I find it artful that her voice is so versatile. It seems as if she can sing and convey every emotion to the listener, a great compliment to her.

Sleep Paralyses starts with the marimba-like sounds again, together with hard drum sounds. A lot of tension that fades away if Irini takes over, however, she challenges you to come into her fears and you feel trapped. She is singing as if she has a nightmare, oppressive. This song gives you so many emotions, well done.

The only song that doesn't fit to me is the closing track, Ghosts When It Rains, an instrumental.

Lyrically the album deals about loss and every song has its own theme. Irini is the perfect singer for this album. One tip for the band: never let Irini go!!!

So, the review did not end after the first sentence, I am glad that I had something more to write about it. Hopefully I have given you a view of what the album did to me. One of the highlights of the year so far and one that certainly competes for my top 10 of most beautiful albums of 2018.

****+ Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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