CD Review

Frolic - "Permafrost"

By Mike Ventarola

Band Lineup:
Kelly O' Brien: vox, finger cymbals
Matthew Chinn: atmospheres, electronics, words
Jon Beard: guitars, vox, production

PermafrostFrolic demonstrates ambient music that evokes the feeling of floating on ice upon a cold river surrounded by nothing but scenes of winter and mountains of snow. One can almost picture icy tundra in music that not only envelopes the senses but feels like a harmonic blend between nature and the angelic realm. At midpoint we are taken to a warmer place musically and spiritually. This group is a husband and wife team of Kelly O'Brien and Matthew Chinn and plays like a tribute to true love without reveling in sticky sentimentality. Jon Beard deftly blends his guitar and vocal talents to gracefully blend with some of Kelly's vocals. The cover graphics depict the watery blue shimmers and tinted angelic statues that pictorially represents rather honestly what the music on the disc entails. Vocally, O'Brien is a cross between Enya and Loreena McKennitt. She weaves tones to make you feel as though her voice is indeed kissed by God.

Seraphim Magnara opens with virtuous choirs that bounce off the layers of ice and sky. It descends from the ethereal realm and increases in volume to glide a warm cloak around the listener. This is the start of the gentle ride down the River Styx. We are lulled into a blissful tranquility. The more somber notes of In Winter provide mental images of whales jumping in the ocean. This is a kaleidoscope of sound and winter scenes accompanied by Kelly's hauntingly gentle and soothing voice. We are led underwater with the wild and untamed life that thrives in this element. Drift Away takes us swimming in the deepest reaches of the ocean bed and then plummets us to the caverns of ice. This track has more percussion to it and the notes glisten around crystallized formations. Despite the cold imagery, there still remains a subtle warmth to the sound.

Tonite is a star lit walk upon crunchy snow. Kelly's voice is given an underwater effect that sounds like it is coming from the drops of melting icicles. Essence of Violet is a translucent palace formed of ice and quartz. Very subtle and gentle Gothic guitar minor chords play as a background to tinkling crystallized water orchestration. This song imbues the violet chakra elements which looms towards spirit. This is the frost burn from overexposure to the cold. Siren incorporates more lush orchestration, shifting between the light and the dark upon the landscape of barren snow capped mountains. Fields Of Green is the waking flora from winter's nap. It is a love song to melt the heart that has grown as inert as the landscape we have been traveling through.

Aqua brings us to the melting of the ice from the sun's rays. It is the ice around the heart slowly letting droplets fall to wake the sleeping snowman of our soul. It is the confrontation of our vulnerability when we take off the protective layers we have buried ourselves under. Father unfolds the spirit essence. This is the echoed emanation from the heavens calling us to ground and center within ourselves while our energy pulse radiates off our bodies in rippling waves. Terrain has a more earthy sound that is partially melted fragments around us that potentially risk freezing during the dark night. Reunion weaves air, water and ice in a whirlpool of sound to incorporate the many soundscapes we have heard prior to this point. Sea is the lulling ocean caressing the lips of the sandy beach. It is the lazy orange sun, setting in the horizon which glistens light off the sea foam at our feet. This is a late afternoon swim in tepid waters to take the chill from our bones. Skin is the pristine feeling of scrubbed epidermis. The squeaky relieved feeling from a hot shower to slough off the dead layers of skin and useless regrets.

Frolic has accomplished a recording that utilizes sounds to evoke mental imagery. It was quite astonishing, the vividness of mental graphics that each song was able to convey. Repeated listening only further provided more mental images that would take volumes to fill. This work is a great accompaniment to meditation or relaxation. The sincerity is felt with each note the members of this outfit have contributed to. The album is one long piece without any breaks and segues quite beautifully from track to track. Kelly O'Brien's Enya-like vocals lilt creatively through the multiple layers of sound, giving the impression that she is the Snow Queen guiding us on our journey. Jon Beard's understated vocal layering provide the right amount of warmth and harmony to fully blend as an angelic choir. Matthew Chinn masterfully mixes all of the structure together in a flawless link that sounds like a top notch studio production. I can fathom this album as a nice adjunct to the winter holiday music in lieu of the mundane carols that are endured from year to year.

For those who like relaxation music or tend to be over stressed, give this CD a try. After a rough day at work or school, the music on this disc manages to freeze the troubles and then melts them all away.

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