Here is a dandy, chilly EP release “Wiosna“(springtime), from Polish quartet FREN.
I thought I’d write this review while awaiting the release of their second full length album due October 8, 2022, “All the Pretty Days“.
It seems fitting: two lengthy tracks; the first the title track, which will be on the forthcoming album. So in essence, a teaser track.
The second, a space-tinged piece that surges, ebbs, and flows, called simply “Trip”.
FREN formed in 2017 with these four musicians:
Oskar Cenkier – pianos, organs, synthesizers
Michał Chalota – guitars
Andrew Shamanov – bass, synthesizers
Oleksii Fedoriv – drums
FREN has one full-length album, “Where Do You Want Ghosts to Reside”, which some reviewers have compared to Änglagård, released in 2020.
But judging by this EP, FREN has at least for the while, moved from that sort of majestic symphonic progressive music, into chillier, post-progressive realms as I’ll describe below.
The title track begins with resonant bass guitar forming melancholy, deep chords in a reverb’d repetitive pattern. Drums, mostly playing crisp, tasteful, restrained snare/bass drum colorations enter. Then piano, also reverb’d and eerie, melancholy clean guitar notes.
The overall feel is moody and atmospheric. But this changes as trilling distorted lead guitar begins to sing and to soar. Things get heavier by degrees with the presence of distorted bass guitar and more ebullient drumming.
This subsides with a pulsing staccato clean guitar note over chill bass guitar chords. There are distant echoing choral synths and this begins to build with piano chiming, and growing more intense, even some organ chords swelling…
…then subsiding. A solemn classical-feel passage led by clean guitar melody, which ushers in the full band, and a singing electric guitar line which leads with an elegant melodic passage, regal, and the guitar nimbly cuts loose over a grand, icy passage.
After this subsides, the bass guitar chords which introduced the track return, and the song ends.
And “Trip” is a different animal entirely. In both tracks I hear the post-progressive sounds of repeated patterns, slow builds and glacial shifts and moods.
But “Trip” reminds me of space-rock, somewhat in the vein of early Pink Floyd or maybe Ozric Tentacles too. There are whirring, zinging synths, atmospheric eerie sounds, all ushered in with drum rolls.
It almost sounds like a helicopter in the distance and closing in…then becomes an ascending, then descending synth line. All the while in the far distance mystic mellotron chords, with a deep held bass synth note undergirding.
The drums enter then moody bass and guitar lines, and the rhythm section continues with deliberate stride underneath a wall of synth chords.
The chiming clean guitar in the upper range is soon embroidered with midrange guitar notes, while the deep synth note surges in and out, builds, then slowly all fades with the bass held under spectral choral chords, and deliberate, laidback drumming.
The guitar picks up a slightly Eastern sounding passage, while synths sigh and moan. The midrange guitar picks in and out beneath the repeating guitar lick…
…and the track (the trip) ends. A space-y journey for sure.
From what I can hear, FREN is a talented, capable group of musicians who obviously play well together, and have some great ideas. The sound is well-engineered and produced. It makes me curious to see what direction they go with the forthcoming album, as this one sounds like a departure from the first.
As a teaser, it works well!