Frames: In Via

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Frames: In Via
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Frames: In Via
Avant-Garde, Post-Rock, Progressive Rock
Steamhammer/SPV Records
April 20th, 2012
Release length: 59:54
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2010 saw the release of the debut Frames album, Mosaik, through Steamhammer/SPV Records. The Avant-Garde Post-Rock meets Progressive Rock instrumental effort was met with plenty of critical success, earning the group a spotlight among those seeking beautifully crafted movements of emotion, edge, and even classical orchestration. The goal, as outlined in the press release, is a goal by the band to create music which is a “network to become personal stories – either real or fictional – where listeners can form an individual soundtrack for their own mental picture. The band’s only goal – to give it a Frame.” Now, roughly two years later, that same state becomes the driving force to the anticipated follow-up, In Via.

In Via really does have a lot of great expectations to meet, and they start right off by utilizing a crystal clear recording quality that captures every fine detail perfectly. Every piece utilized to weave this album is met with a modern, digital sound, but doesn’t erase any of the bite or emotion put into it. The guitars often sound light, and when meant to be a bit chaotic or heavy, the distortion used still has a nice kick to it that reminds you this isn’t just an atmospheric walk through the park some songs may lead you assume. The bass often isn’t too loud or demanding, but it acts as great support, and when it does come off as more of the focal point, such as with the softer “Stir,” the slightly lighter tones it emits greatly reflect a similar aura to the music. The cymbals are clear and the slightest tap is clearly captured, the snares sound rich and vibrant thanks to the dominant tight tuning that rings through the upbeat passages and suits the darker ones, and the bass kicks have a click that comes through over everything else, asserting their existance a lot stronger than the bass guitar. The other orchestral elements end up matching the levels, whether strings or otherwise, and every subtle pluck or tap is captured perfectly to make sure the environment is as important and obvious as the aforementioned instruments.

While some heavier moments can appear, they are very limited. In Via is a very emotional and beautiful piece, often creating music that is perfect for sitting back and unwinding too while reminiscing about all the good times in your life, or even the moments you wish you could recapture but can’t, and simply refuse to let go of. “Reflections” is suited to that thanks to the moving piano performance and the hazey atmospheres the performance makes. It does take on a bit of a heavier tone, which is actually a little bit of a let down, but it does allow for a jerking realization towards reality that continues to grow and give the listener reason to be upset, or even decipher the music in another manner to better accentuate the positive aspects of today or the days before. Those heavier chords do die down at times during the track, but they do carry over into “Eris” for a slightly more aggressive experience, all the while continuing to build up as you progress towards the end to a rather dismal and ominous setting, especially during “End of a Decade” with the powerful, classical styled over-the-top music that comes into play, really taking advantage of the harder chords and edgier distortions utilized throughout the recording.

This isn’t quite how the album kicks off though. “Departure” has a beautiful, if not rather simple piano performance that slowly builds with additional synth effects in the background, and a muffled bass kick drum beat. Before it all fades when the instruments stop, “Departure” kicks in with strong, atmospheric Progressive Rock material at a somewhat faster pace that easily sweeps you up, and takes you away. The start finds some heavier distortions working against cleaner chords, but it barely lasts a minute before the notes and drumming of the previous track are expanded on with some depressive notes from the guitar that do ring in louder than the rest. This, like many other songs on the release, is a pretty long offering, going over the seven minute mark. However, like the others, there are plenty of shifts that feel natural and seemless throughout, keeping everything fresh and engaging for the listener. The only real gripe here is the audio sample in German that doesn’t really feel necessary to the performance at all, though works perfectlty with “Coda,” and even feels a little disorienting. “Encounter” honestly does put this one to shame though, really utilizing the rougher chords to a much more powerful Classical composition sense. The energy in the pounding drums and matching chords sparks something in the listener that really takes over during this commanding section, and it’s a shame it’s never revisited on this song. The additional orchestral instruments in the background against the white noise static from something skipping, an effect used here and there through the recording, including the heavier “Eris,” and the heavily echoed guitars act as an awe-inspiring contrast with a slower pace the envelopes the listener like the arms of a loved one.

In Via wound up being a real treat. Frames did an exceptional job at weaving together a great atmospheric instrumental album that, while some song brought up the same kind of emotion, was varied enough to really stand out and remain engaging through long songs with plenty of fresh and unique changes to keep the listener satisfied throughout. However, the only issues to be found end up being some of the jarring shifts towards heavier material. What really stands out in this offering is the beauty and passion that often shines through each track, and not all of the darker, dismal tones feel necessarily, or at the very least suiting to exquisite experiences being offered in some songs. If you’re looking for something different, yet still elloquent amid the complexities, then In Via is definitely something well worth looking into.

01. Entrance – 1:03
02. Departure – 7:17
03. Encounter – 6:08
04. Calm Wisdom – 2:11
05. Stir – 5:42
06. Reflections – 6:58
07. Eris – 8:28
08. Don’t Stay Here – 8:48
09. End of a Decade – 6:01
10. Coda – 6:56
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Steamhammer/SPV Records via Freeman Promotions.