frostlake – Ice And Bone

Mr Olivetti at FREQ

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.

 

found sounds and field recordings that  have come mainly from nature add to the outdoorsy sense of solitudeJan’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.

 

Songs feel as though they have been written in the proverbial shack somewhere in the wildernessThese 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 And Bone that is rooted in the solitude of the outdoors, but has just enough warmth from its folk inflections to charm the listener.

Lee Henderson at Big beautiful Noise

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.

Zdenek Slaby  HISVOICE

The Ice & Bone album is somewhat different, under which frostlake, under her own name Jan Todd, a vocalist, guitarist, banjo player, harpist, violist, clarinettist, 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,   

 

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 its best. Field recordings add a sense of time and place in the eerie, natural world that frostlake creates and shares its stranger secrets.

 

Partly hallucinatory, fully bewitching release of music with a globular exotic world charm, and ritualistic flavour. 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.

Mr Olivetti, FREQ

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.

 

Other frostlake mentions:

White Moon, Black Moon was featured on live radio shows such as WFMU (repeatedly), Death Valley Radio, Miskin Radio, Jonty’s Folk and Acoustic Roots Show, On! In Barnsley, 

 

Ice & Bone has had tracks played on BBC 6 Music 2019- the Gideon Coe Show, Stuart Maconie’s Freakzone, where he read out extracts from the accompanying letter with the CD, also WFMU, On! In Barnsley, Finland ARL,Polish Radio ARS2, America’s Echoes, where Ice & Bone was 3rd in the Top 25 for April 2019 and maintained a position in there for 5 months

 

Ice & Bone was the ‘Big Album’ featured on Miskin Radio’s Strange Fruit show July 2109

 

You can buy this album here.