The Weight of Clouds
(2021 - Discus Music - UK)
Much of the music here is as refreshing as a clean breeze from a pristine ocean, just after dusk, and when you need such a replenishment of your sanity. In an innocent constitution of 1960's haunted folk, mixed with gorgeous floating apparitions and a voice that equals a most gentle angel, Frostlake's third album 'The Weight of Clouds' is as stunningly beautiful as anything you have ever heard in this genre. Images of many, audio portraits of sinewy sirens and ghosts, yet so gentle as a kiss on the lips in your deep sleep, and in dreams of lore, those so welcome. This and more, built on an agile often tribal percussion bed, beautifully laid out rhythmic flow, and primal birth that world music lovers will absorb with glee.
If the listener hears a contrast of both the heavenly atmosphere of early music the way not only actual ensembles from early music performed it but also along with more modern outfits who blend the old and new (such as the best of Dead Can Dance, ethereal goth artists from 'Heavenly Voices' and that ilk., Plus the pure and soothing 60's psychedelic folk scene who had the true intent to seduce you into their castles in the air, then you have a nearly full (and I warn you that it is NOT quite full) picture of Frostlake 'The Weight of Clouds' (Discuis 121CD). The artists, which consists of only two, and their instruments are : Jan Todd - vocals, voices, lyrics, acoustic & electric 6 and 12 string guitars, E-bow, floor harp, cross strung harp, soprano lyre, jouhikko, alto tagelharpa, viola, e-violin, clarinet, melodica, Hulusi flutes, Idiopan, Korg MS2000, midi keys, Korg wave-drum, drum creations, percussion, electronics, and field recordings / Terry Todd - acoustic-electric bass guitar, 12 string guitar. A beautiful multi panel physical CD package, with gorgeous art, made up of 16 tracks, all with a gentle sweeping effect. (Be sure to check out the interview I did with Jan here at Big Beautiful Noise, to know further facts about her and this recording).
While I witnessed the more diverse and build up of gentle to aggressive recordings from the first and second Frostlake albums, this third release is more consistent with the over all tempo and temperament, which keeps the listener in a soft cradle throughout. Yet compositions do introduce a hint of what is to come, with numbers like 'Another Room, Another World' (track #7). Of course this was a time when so many (if not all of the world) were captive and held in their dwellings, had time to reflect or panic (as it seems the high powers so much hoped for), or make the most intimate and emotional pieces of music of their lives. Jan Todd, who most recognize as a strong composer and musician of Orchestra of The Upper Atmosphere (another gem of an outfit on Discus Music), has what appears to be unlimited skills and reserve to produce multiple projects. She also chose to reflect and make music from her soul.
If the recording has any slant to the balance of what is so far described, it would be to the devotional, dreamy, delicate, and radiant cuts to usher each recipient into a carpet ride among the sweet blue clouds, and lofty heavens above.Jan's completely pure vocal work, often layered, is at the steering wheel and is impossible to dislike or not be mesmerized by. Once you get to the end tracks, it is for certain one will get taken in by the rich 'What Remains' (track #15) . The concluding piece 'Clouds' is as great a last track as ever was. Some might hear it as the mournful last farewell at the grave-site, others a nocturnal sleep time, but however it is translated, it gives finalization to the album, and brings tears from the grace it emphasizes. The last seconds of it reveals wee morning hours with just a capture of birds singing, The dream is over and the next day is now. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and this sits on the TOP CHOICES of 2021 list at Big Beautiful Noise.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 2 - 18 - 2022