eyes cast down (Greg M)
Winter as a Safe Hallucinogen
Chris Russell is fond of working in his home studio during the long winter months. For Frozen, his third full-length CD (on Relaxed Machinery), he heeded the call of inspiration and didn't bother to wait for the season. He channeled its harsh extremes, its muted colors and atmospheric stillness, from memory and past/present experience, during the second half of 2009 and early 2010.
Chris skillfully evokes the harsh cold of a northern winter, which finally gives way to the rebirth of spring. The album features a terrific range of classic analog sounds, with its two longest tracks, Numb and Otzi, resembling sonic playgrounds.
The opening track, Aurora, using a series of shimmering, long-held chords, radiates a cold, rich, colorful light that draws in the listener. The closer, Slowly Drifting, breathes warmth and renewal, a delightful, melodic atmosphere with the promise of every possible color. The album progresses through Thaw's impressionistic icebreaking, to the earthy, growling bass of Tundra, to the title track's eerie, slow-moving chilled atmosphere, with hints of mostly subterranean activity under the sleeping earth.
The stillness of winter doesn't mean that time stands still. The album's most meditative piece, Time Lost, dwells quietly in a subdued atmosphere full of memories which might have been.
I never thought of winter as a hallucinogen before, but Frozen is pretty good evidence – and completely safe... don't miss it.