The Frozen Vaults are a far flung, five piece modern classical music collective. ‘1816’ is a conceptual work based on the year 1816 which was one of the coldest years for the world in recorded history, also known as ‘the year with no summer’. The Frozen Vaults have created stunningly beautiful visual soundscapes constructed from frozen white noise, chilling tones and slow building atmospheres that grow up from the ground like ice.
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- 1816 by The Frozen Vaults
6/10 Jim Staff review, 19 May 2015
The Frozen Vaults combine sweeping, cinematic arrangements with field recordings and electronic sound manipulation to produce an immersive listening experience. This album attempts to evoke the the spirit of 1816- which was apparently one of the coldest years ever recorded on Earth. So unsurprisingly what we get are chilly, mostly sombre tracks that have the impressionistic quality of the faded image adorning the cover. This impressionistic quality owes a lot to the crackling, breathy textures provided by the field recordings, aided perhaps by the use of atmospheric reverb around the lonesome guitar/piano arpeggios and stirring cello and violin lines.
The melodic aspects of the music, particularly the excellent violin work, reminds me a bit of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' soundtracks of recent years- albeit performed by a more virtuosic ensemble- which may be a good or a bad thing depending on your musical preference. Sometimes the combination of all the various elements and layers of sound seems a little over-egged and lapses into sentimental cliche (the version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' for example); I sometimes wish they'd strip back the layers and let the bare bones of the music speak for itself. Nevertheless, it is an atmospheric album that will appeal to anyone who's already missing their winter hibernation.
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