FROST* – Falling Satellites [Deluxe Edition +2] (2016)
No matter their level of activity, all’s right in the prog world when the on again/off again ensemble known as FROST* is in ‘on’ mode. Many of us have closely – and happily – followed the twists and turns of writer / keyboardist / vocalist Jem Godfrey’s group since they released the landmark album in 2006. This is the band that became a progressive giant in just one album, the band that we have been waiting to hear from for so long now: it’s been eight years since their last CD.
So, what can be said about their new effort “Falling Satellites”?
“Falling Satellites” is Frost*’s most pop-influenced album, without a doubt. So, if you are looking for some sort of retro prog or maybe a heavier sound, they went in exactly the opposite direction. Unswayed by the modern trends in progressive rock, Frost* have released an album that celebrates the missing progressive pop subgenre with sounds ranging from subtle to sweeping.
This is an album that might bring Frost* to wider audiences, as it presents us with razor sharp vocal hooks, upbeat melodies, and some songs that might not be progressive at all.
Yet, it also offers incredibly technical grooves, layers and layers of gorgeous sounds, progressive structures, and, of course, some of the best soloing you will ever hear on any album.
“Falling Satellites” has a little bit for everyone.
Bookended by an ethereal intro and outro, the album truly begins with “Numbers”, a fast-paced and catchy as hell number in a ‘song format’.
Other similar tracks are “Lights Out” (a pop song through and through), and the incredible melodic “Heartstrings”. Some lean towards the band’s celebrated debut, such as the big build of “Signs”, the subtle “Closer to the Sun”, or the complex labyrinth of “Nice Day for It”.
The album seems a bit all over the place at first, but comes together when you realize that the last six songs on the album are a suite called “Sunlight”. In fact, you’ll hear the basic melodies of “Heartstrings” reoccur in “Nice Day for It”.
Once you understand the structure of the album, it really starts to makes sense, especially as the last half of the album surges and then hits a cooldown for the last two tracks.
Musically, Frost* is in top form.
Jem Godfrey and John Mitchell guitars are obviously the focus here. Jem’s keys are inimitable, winding and streaming with a consciousness of their own. Every time his keys sweep in, your heart races just a little more quickly, and his mastery of new instruments like The Chapman Railboard (played horizontally) is all the more impressive.
John, too, is at the top of his game. After the exquisite Lonely Robot’s offering last year, I was more excited to hear him play again, and he does not disappoint. His guitar solos strike that emotionally perfect first note that few guitarists can achieve.
Nathan King and Craig Blundell however, may be the unsung heroes of the album. Nathan’s bass is exceedingly important here, establishing the grooves around which the keys and guitars orbit. Craig, a proven talent on the drums, lays down deceptively simple beats that you will find yourself trying to follow, but then you’ll realize that they are way more complicated than you thought.
Ah, and there’s a Joe Satriani contribution – longtime fan of the band – with, of course, a scorching guitar solo.
That kind of subtle complexity is a huge part of “Falling Satellites”. Some will hear this album and proclaim it as a Rock& pop record. They’d be wrong, of course.
Yes, there is pop influence here that is undeniable (and I love it), but there is also an underlying technicality here that will blow your mind if you give it a chance, especially the second half.
In many ways, Frost* has once again redefined what we understand to be progressive music, and they’ve done it with gusto and pomp and a smile on their faces.
01 – First Day
02 – Numbers
03 – Towerblock
04 – Signs
05 – Lights Out
06 – Heartstrings
07 – Closer to the Sun
08 – The Raging Against The Dying of the Light Blues In 7/8
09 – Nice Day for It…
10 – Hypoventilate
11 – Last Day
12 – Lantern (bonus track)
13 – British Wintertime (bonus track)
Jem Godfrey – keyboards and vocals
John Mitchell – guitars and vocals
Nathan King – bass
Craig Blundell -drums
Joe Satriani – guitar