Review: ‘Haven’ album by Frozen Shores
‘Haven’ is the new sonic comfort blanket by Dumfries & Galloway ambient indie-rock artist, Frozen Shores.
No music exists in isolation. Through experiments in pushing boundaries, the release of new equipment, developments in recording techniques and cultural shifts in taste, songwriters will find a place that totally belongs to them.
Frozen Shores has found a very comfortable place within the sphere of some musical icons. I hope that the nod to established artists is not seen in any way as a criticism. Indeed, it is a compliment to him in understanding the production, form and arrangement that makes his music sit so comfortably well within the genre.
‘Haven’ connects beautifully to the tracks formed by bands such as Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver. It has a sound that combines lush, atmospheric pads as the foundation, with delicate arpeggiated guitar and heavenly double tracked, harmonised vocals.
The melodies are delicate and swamped in ethereal reverb and sit comfortably above the underlying atmospheric backing. The sound itself lies between synthetic and organic, but always subtle and ambient.
Lush and unsettling
The opening track, ‘Forever Changing’ begins alongside an ethereal pad with a pulsing, slow attack synth bass. This gives the track a lush and unsettling feeing akin to a record being played in reverse. The track is the perfect opener; a short instrumental arrangement setting the otherworldly stage for the tracks to come. It reminds me of work by Explosions in the Sky, with ‘Home’ being a particular track that feels like it sits comfortably beside.
Evident on tracks such as ‘Snow’ is the ability to build from a delicate, subtle and wistful beginning to an anthemic ending. This surrounds the listener with an enveloping force that would not feel out of place on a listeners playlist that included Mumford & Sons, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
However, if I was to make one minor criticism, it is that vocally I would like the main vocal track to be less processed. This would allow it to stand out for the quality it obviously has, and not to be lost in production through the overuse of reverb. If you have a talent, flaunt it. More importantly, if you have a message, let it stand out. ‘Leeches’ shows this well as it lacks the layered backing vocals of other tracks. It is also evident on ‘Kiss Me’, where the vocal track is both prominent and playful. The guitar provides a sympathetic accompaniment to the melody.
A clear collection of musical ideas
In conclusion, I can honestly say the more I listen, the more I like this album. I fully understand where it stands. I’m happy there is a clear collection of musical ideas that range from the cinematic track ‘Blinded’, and the melancholic piano track ‘Leeches’, to the more poppy and driven ‘Night Terrors’ and ‘Senses’ with its almost Chili Peppers guitar riffs.
As an entirely self-produced album, Frozen Shores has had free rein and control over every aspect of the process. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for other talented musicians to provide their own unique touch to these beautiful tracks in the future.
Review by Steven Pearson.
Listen to ‘Haven’ by Frozen Shores on Spotify here. Or listen via YouTube below: