79CD - frostlake - Ice & Bone
Ice & Bone- long awaited second CD by multi-instrumentalist frostlake (Jan Todd) who has been busy writing and recording for the improvising band Orchestra of The Upper Atmosphere. Ice & Bone is now finally released and the distinctive sound palette of her debut CD ‘White Moon, Black Moon’ continues - acoustic and electronic sounds washed with layered vocals and the creative bass of Terry Todd. They have played out live as a duo and here are studio recordings of their live set. The mix of acoustics strings/wind instruments with ethereal synthesizers and percussion takes you to another world- from the gentle terror of ‘60’s B movie ‘The Lake’ to the classic folk horror of ‘When Trees Sing/Find Me’. Ice & Bone unwraps the darker layers of the mind in dreams and the unexplained. Driving bass and drums grind it back to reality in ‘Just A Game’ and ‘The Last Time’ so this album is caught between the worldly and the unworldly - British psychedelia at it’s best. Field recordings add a sense of time and place in the eerie, natural world that frostlake creates and shares it’s stranger secrets.
frostlake (Jan Todd )- vocals, lyrics, electronics, guitars, banjo, Lute Harp, Celtic Harp, zither, viola, melodica, clarinet, recorders, glockenspiel, Idiopan, percussion, Korg MS2000, Wavedrum, drum creations, midi keys, Arturia Microbrute, field recordings and found objects.
Terry Todd - bass guitars, Idiopan Dominus
Partly hallucinatory, fully bewitching release of music with a globular exotic world charm, and ritualistic flavor. Ethereal vocals by Jan Todd, the majority being layered, conduct the music along a perfume sprinkled path to what feels like a secret garden of delights. While the bulk of the songs keep on that course, there are a couple that lead off to tranquil ponds, sudden nightmares, ornate meditations, festive nights, and even mystic lands.
To know this woman, Jan Todd (being the leader/composer/main player of Frostlake), comes from another sophisticated band Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere, and is an accomplished composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, may open the door for more listeners. Jan also has a debut album under the name Frostlake called 'White Moon, Black Moon' (2015 - Discus Music 53CD), which is possibly even more haunting, but brings more of this heavenly psychedelic mastery. The instruments and artists used to create this surreal filled set of palettes are Jan Todd - vocals, lyrics, electronics, guitars, banjo, lute harp, celtic harp, zither, viola, melodica, clarinet, recorders, glockenspiel, Idiopan, percussion, Korg MS2000, Wavedrum, drum creations, midi keys, Arturia Microbrute, field recordings and found objects / and Terry Todd - bass guitars, Idiopan Dominus.
The opening track sounds like what one could imagine Barbara Gaskin (of Stewart & Gaskin, and former member of Hatfield and the North's 'The Northettes'. She was in the British folk-fusion band Spirogyra before all that, but the vocals don't relate to what I am comparing here, at that time), doing if she were to do a solo album in the celestial themes. Some of the music has a ghostly echo of the 1980's simplicity that Deux Filles ('Silence and Wisdom') and Enya did, and even approaches the stately sacredness of Hildegard von Bingen, but the overall fairytale atmosphere prevails like a slow trip in a beautifully jeweled carriage, being led by six white horses. That is until the last song, that suddenly builds to the crescendo, and lunges forward with a gallop. What a whirlpool ending and a visionary trip from open to close. 'Ice & Bone' is a gorgeous, dreamy and rich with haunted folk, of lost ghosts, calling from another world, whispering sweet things in your ear. - Lee Henderson - BIG BEAUTIFUL NOISE
Martin Archer‘s Discus label certainly knows how to throw a curveball. After the motorik groove of Das Rad and the subtle freedom of Beck Hunters, their next release is the chilly post-folk artistry of Frostlake. Jan Todd has taken four years to record the follow up to 2015’s White Moon, Black Moon and once again has bassist Terry Todd adding his warm groove to some of the tracks here, attempting to keep the slow creep of winter from invading the whole album.
Jan is a true multi-instrumentalist and covers two sorts of harp, glockenspiel, Idiopan and Wavedrum amongst the myriad other things listed on the sleeve. It is possible on listening to differentiate them all, as the use of certain instruments imbues that particular track with its own feeling amongst the overall wintry outlook. The other thing that stands the album out is the use of Jan’s voice. Not content to just sing, there are abundant harmonies, as well as choral effects that sit at the back of the tracks and shine further light on the main vocal line.
Jan’s voice is an impressionistic wash on opener “The Key”, set against a backdrop of gentle steel drum and a haze of electronics. The vocals have a folk inflection, but that might just be the Englishness of the delivery and its resonance against the elusive music that seems to hang from frozen branches, diverse and fluttering in the sparkling landscape. The addition of the soft yet incisive bass is an integral part of the overall feel. The zither brings a kind of magic to “Ghost Hotel”, and the song moves slowly, slightly hesitantly with spare percussion. Jan duets with herself here and it sounds so natural, adding high parts where required with the clarinet landing a smoky atmosphere in the lower register; but one lovely aspect is the addition of the natural world. Her willingness to introduce found sounds and field recordings that have come mainly from nature add to the outdoorsy sense of solitude.
These songs feel as though they have been written in the proverbial shack somewhere in the wilderness, surrounded by tress and whatever wildlife nature has to offer, and they and the elements have been invited to be part of the recording. There is a wintry British feel that makes us feel rather at home when listening. The music is surreptitious on “Just A Game” and moves carefully like an animal through the woodland, wary of predators, while on “Walking On Bones” it is cold, like hacking at ice, trying to reach the nutrition below the frosty surface. This is how the songs emerge from this harsh landscape and are taken into the warmth of the shack, infused with elements that allow them to be released to the listener. They retain their mystery and solitude — but like the flute on “Woods Of Thorn”, are given the means to integrate.
The banjo and bass together on ‘”The Last Time” is a really effective combination and the song feels as though it was produced for your ears only. The cantering bass that sets off halfway through the track gives it a momentum that is effective due to its under-use. Generally, these songs emerge gently and move subtly, and although the tracks proceed at a similar tempo, it is the use of the textures and found sounds that give them identity. Fireworks burst on “Candles & Fire” and the sound of woodpeckers on “Woods Of Thorn” is so evocative. A sudden burst of crows or rooks disturbs the equilibrium of “When Trees Sing/Find Me”, and from the zither and double-tracked vocal shade comes an electric bass-strummed release of energy, like a violent wave that pushes the album to its finale.
Frostlake has produced a really effective work of beauty and melancholy on Ice & Bone that is rooted in the solitude of the outdoors, but has just enough warmth from its folk inflections to charm the listener. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ
The Ice & Bone album is somewhat different, under which frostlake, under her own name Jan Todd, a vocalist, guitarist, banjo player, harpist, violist, clarinetist, percussionist, and so on, but also an electronic tube, broker of "field" recordings and found objects. She has a strong bass player Terry Todd at her side, and has made ten secret stories in FrogPond studio. Frostlake has debuted with White Moon, Black Moon, and is also known to perform in the Orchestra of The Upper Atmosphere. With a gentle vocal, a melodious, intensely resonant accompaniment that changes instruments like socks, electronically interconnects them into a new compact, and is colorful in its coloring to the touchy popness. But the Ghost Hotel, fascinating, is more enigmatic, magical than the Key Key, so glorious. up to a whispering voice, crammed with drums, with a moody atmosphere, identical to the title. Stuffed Just A Game rises into the mess, the vocalist poetizes her, but she does it in secret, urgently. He is a bass player who makes things happen, so that the result will be on the palm of his hand so that everything is blissful. As a whole album, frostlake is apparently choosing from a plethora of instruments more than sparingly, as if to gradually rotate them. Her thoughtfully bewitching voice is characterized by a gentle stubbornness in Walking On Bones, knocked down with air-borne musicality to almost imperial ephemeral. On the contrary, the subsequent The Lake evokes landscape imagery, including water-metered splashes and mildly obsessive excitement, but even here a fierce episode dominates without pushing the saw. The vocalist is equally seated in Woods Of Thorn, her narrative being carried in a soft, engaging, branching, indoctrinous hint of indulgence. The sober melody is repeated in The Last Time as well, it is psychedelically unchanging, but the musical amalgamation makes the voice quaint with subdued humor. Peacefully tied Candles & Fire remains in this double-presented, calm conversation, it seems as if everything has happened under cover, trusting and trusting. Which does not mean that the music around this vocal can not be broken, torn or crushed. The name Vargtimmen (Wolf Hour) corresponds to the revelation of singing and its reformation, however, the warning insignia is increasingly waxed with music, with its intrigues, insights and proven attacks. The final When Trees Sing / Find Me could be characterized as a folk horror, ripped up by ring-pounded peasants and birdwatching thinning up to the final riot, hardening and finishing. As can be seen, this upward trend is compositionally considered. And the popness that I only mentioned at the beginning, but which makes the whole CD conditional? But what about such a type of pop on the edge of dreaminess, darkness and secrecy cannot be overly creative? but which makes the whole CD conditional? But what about such a type of pop on the edge of dreaminess, darkness and secrecy cannot be overly creative? but which makes the whole CD conditional? But what about such a type of pop on the edge of dreaminess, darkness and secrecy cannot be overly creative? - Zdenek Slaby HISVOICE
Mit "Ice & Bone" legt Jan Todd alias frostlake ihr zweites Album vor. Offenbar war die multiinstrumental veranlagte Britin nach dem Erscheinen ihres Erstlings (siehe "White Moon, Black Moon") mit Partner Terry Todd live unterwegs, und das hier rezensierte Album beinhaltet nun weitestgehend Studioversionen des Konzertmaterials. In der Tat sind hier auch nur die beiden Todds zu hören. Weitere Gastmusiker (wie auf dem Debüt) waren an den Aufnahmen nicht beteiligt.
Trotz der reduzierten Besetzung hat sich die Musik von frostlake kaum verändert. Etwas schlichter sind die Kompositionen ausgefallen, aber ansonsten wird ein ähnliches, ätherisch-luftiges Gemenge wie auf "White Moon, Black Moon" geboten, das man am besten irgendwo in der Schnittmenge von ArtPop, elektronischem Folk und Postrock verortet. Eine erstaunlich umfangreiches Instrumentarium setzt Jan Todd hier ein, beblasenes, gestrichenes, gezupftes (u.a. Harfe und Zither) und mit Tasten versehenes, dazu verschiedene Perkussion, allerlei Elektronik und schließlich diverse Field Recordings (Naturgeräusche meist). Rhythmisch gefügt wird das alles von Terry Todds Bass.
Eher ruhig und entspannt gleiten die zehn Songs dahin, jeder deutlich anders instrumentiert, und eingebettet in verschiedene dezente, homogen und dicht verwobene, farbig-freiformatige Elektronikgemälde, aber alle von ähnlich friedlichem Charakter. Nur gegen Ende des abschließenden "When trees sing/Find me", steigern sich die Klänge zu einem lauten, fast sperrigen Crescendo. Über allem schwebt Todds zerbrechlicher Gesang, der sanft, oft eher gehaucht, dahin gleitet, und die unwirklich-mysteriöse, bisweilen auch leicht bedrohliche (man höre "Vargtimmen") Atmosphäre der Musik verstärkt, oder erst erzeugt. Hier liegt auch mein einziger wirklicher Kritikpunkt: Etwas gleichförmig wirkt der Gesang auf Dauer, was dann auch auf die Musik abfärbt, die durchweg in einem ähnlichen Tempo dahin schreitet. Ein häufigeres Aufwallen der Klänge (wie am Schluss des Albums), oder ein paar längere Instrumentalabschnitte, hätten für etwas mehr Dynamik und gestalterische Abwechslung gesorgt.
Trotzdem ist "Ice & Bone" wieder ein ausgesprochen schönes, eindringliches und atmosphärisches Album geworden. Wer seinen Prog gerne ätherisch, songorientiert und folkig-elektronisch zu sich nimmt, der sollte frostlake einmal antesten. - Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN