It feels like I’ve been following Frequency Drift forever, even though it’s only been since 2012’s “Laid to Rest”. The band, however, has never released an album that is less than stellar, even with member changes and bold new directions. The band is about to release their new album “Letters to Maro” on April 13th, and the band has once again redefined themselves successfully.
Frequency Drift hails from Germany and consists of Andreas Hack on keys, synths, guitar, bass, mandolin; Nerissa Schwarz on electric harp, mellotron, and synth; Wolfgang Ostermann on drums and wavedrum; and guest Michael Bauer on guitar on a couple tracks. The vocalist is newcomer Irini Alexia—more on her later.
Frequency Drift’s musical style has always been effervescent and deeply textured. The band is deeply influenced by film soundtracks and Japanese culture, and so the music comes off as cinematic, layered, and emotionally nuanced. Other descriptors would include folk, progressive rock, and post rock/metal. This new album feels quite different in many ways, but also feels like a return to some of their original, more ethereal ideas, too. Specifically, “Letters to Maro” is playfully dark yet bright and colorful, and organically structured but adventurous and imaginative, just like some of their earliest work.
Much of this nuanced sound hinges upon the new singer, Irini. Frequency Drift has never been able to hold onto a singer, but they have also always had great luck in finding new vocalists with real talent. Irini may be the best yet, and her eccentric and outside the box style creates the foundation for some of the most “out there” moments on the album. Her voice is quite picturesque, but on several tracks she creates harmonies that range from almost disturbing to otherworldly. Her range is quite large, too, so the album itself becomes a roller coaster to follow, but her annunciation is near perfection, so the album feels wild but grounded at the same time.
Every single track on this album evokes real feelings and takes us on deep journeys. Frequency Drift has a knack for creating inventive instrumentals that flourish directly from the primary melody of each song, making everything feel organic and natural. Just when you think you have figured out a track, though, the band will throw a curve ball that will take you completely by surprise.
It really is difficult to pick favorites here. The title track begins the album “normally” in some ways, but soon falls off an edge vocally to become mind-bending. “Underground” feels blunted and almost folksy in some ways, with bright instrumentation taking the lead near the end. “Electricity” flows rapidly and may have the best chorus on the album, while “Neon” is visceral and foggy with a fantastic instrumental in the middle.
My favorites are actually in the second half, though. “Izanami” is quite Japanese in flavor and very intense musically. “Escalator” is probably my favorite overall, being rather sci-fi and electronic in overall vibe. “Who’s Master?” is a crazy track with a dominating vocal performance from Irini as well as heavy Japanese influence.
“Letters to Maro” is like a resurgence of original Frequency Drift ideas, but also somehow sounds totally different. Every track is its own exquisite piece of artistry that will enthrall you while also making you feel something. Frequency Drift still has a perfect record of albums, and they deserve your ongoing support.
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