Back for the first time this year and I am sure not the last are Frozen Ocean, a project helmed by Vaarwel from Moscow and one that regular readers to this site will no doubt have heard of before. I always look forward to new material as it keeps me on my toes and I never know quite what to expect. Last release was experimental, scientific, ambient album ‘Weighing Form’ which proved an interesting and highly immersive trip. Before this there was ‘The Dyson Swarm’ an instrumental electronic journey to the stars and prior to this Natt Over Meg saw him paying tribute to the harshness of Norse black metal. Sometimes it is easy to see and hear where he is coming from, other times it is most definitely not. As far as Prills Of Remembrance is concerned it is definitely the latter case!
At first I thought there had been an unfortunate spelling mistake as ‘Pills Of Remembrance’ would have made some sort of sense. Wouldn’t it be great if they discovered them, especially for those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and that could go well with the excellent cover art for this? Ok, nope, what the hell is a prill then? I’m still uncertain but sticking with science it’s apparently to do with mining and the manufacture of pellets, “converting material into a granular free-flowing form.” I am none the wiser, let’s make haste to the music and see if I can do any better.
Those expecting to mine any form of metal here might be in for a disappointment as this is much more of an ambient and even techno type excursion and one that probably resembles that wonderful Moomin etched album Trollvinter than anything else the artist has done. It’s still very quickly identified in the style I would expect however as the first track ‘Touching Clouds Beyond The Edge Of The Dome’ ambiently flows in and gently pulsates reminding a bit of work by the likes of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis. Taking form it meanders and floats off and establishes itself as synthesized chill out music, great for a come down or a hangover but with plenty of substance to it to prevent it being dismissed as mere supermarket muzak. The track titles are incredibly illustrative and they continue as such taking you on a dreamy flight that may indeed be one of dreams themselves. The first sounded like it could come straight off an Orb album and musically you are not miles away from them either, also from what I know there are sounds from the likes of Astralasia quite heavily in this and as we move into the slightly more nightmarish territory of ‘Into The Forest Of Rope Dolls’ The Future Sounds Of London. It’s an album to very much go with the flow and drift along with and see where it is going to take you. The tracks are all somewhere around the four minute mark, each have their own definition and as a whole this forms a good 40 minute soundtrack, which would no doubt work incredibly well as the backdrop to a good film; not something I have yet tried.
‘As White Supergiant Illumines Petrified Streets’ with piano etched keys turning everything very snow-capped in my head, I have to think this would be perfect soundtrack for new thriller Fortitude as the huge expansive arctic canvas spreads on the screen. I do certainly find my mind forming images of accompanying scenes as the tracks continue to unfold. The mood as a whole is very unthreatening, I don’t feel and sense of danger within the music and it’s not an album likely to give anyone a bad trip as such. At a club it would definitely find itself in the chill out room, feet up with a cup of tea. At times it does enter quite deep sleep and has a sombre feel to it though ‘Broken Feather of the Last Seraphim’ slowly swirls and hypnotises with sparkling sounds glistening away within it. ‘Of Blurred Signs Once Carved on Full Moon’ is the albums graveyard scene perhaps although with the tinkling of xylophone and the John Carpenter sounding beat it’s more a case of sitting grinning as skeletons rise from their tombs rather than feeling panic and needing to escape. ‘Forgotten Children Play On Concealed Stages’ is a fantastic title, if it were a film I would be buying it and it would have to be a giallo. Is there a black gloved clad killer stalking a theatre here? OK I guess if you look at it like that you may end up with a little bit of stage fright as the track gently pulsates over a maudlin keyboard signature. With the surreal sounding ‘White Birds Thaw on Toy Soldier’s Burial’ we come to the end of the dreamscape with some lush sparkly xylophone and chilled underlying symphonics full of rich melody. It’s a good way to go out and reflect upon just what exactly you have heard.
‘Prills…’ like most Frozen Ocean is a highly imaginative and enthralling listen and one that has got my imagination running wild. For sure it’s not for everyone and I have to wonder how I would feel about it if the tracks were simply expressed title wise through roman numerals; that may well put an entire different perspective on it. It does not appear to be available in a physical format and just exists in the digital cosmos. Still, as with all Frozen Ocean it is available as a pay what you want download on the artist’s bandcamp platform. Go exploring!
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)