Frozen Ocean & Petrychor - Autumn Bridges (EP) (2013)



It was only nine months ago that Justin sat down to review an album by a band that was new to us. Frozen Ocean, a one man project from Russia, had released a full length titled "A Perfect Solitude," that begged to be heard. While Justin had found fault in the track lengths and oddly long interludes, others around the office were intrigued by the sounds emanating from our speakers. Vaarwel had something in his music that just kept bringing us back for more. It was lucky, then, that we stumbled on a new split EP released this year. It features the Frozen Ocean moniker, along with a California based one man band called Petrychor, in a twenty three minute effort called "Autumn Bridges." Whether you have experience with either artist and their previous work or not isn't important. What stands out is the symmetry in sound, and the imagery created. And though they sit thousands of miles apart, it's as if they are looking at the same scene as they write. Three tracks later, "Autumn Bridges" might have you seeing the same thing.

With Petrychor's contribution to the album, "Tomorrow It Will Rain Over Bouville," you have a perfect example of versatility. A delicately played clean intro suddenly erupts into a blaring black metal exhibition, nailed in every aspect, right down to the old school recording. The difference, however, is in the way he keeps a melodic vein flowing through the track, even at its most brutal. There are a number of tempo and tone shifts, with some exposing flurries of deft guitar work, both clean and distorted. It is a breathtaking piece of work, especially in contrast and structure. For his part, Vaarwel has a much more expansive sound. "To Drown in Hoary Glass" shares the same distant screams of his counterpart, but the foreground instrumental is more rock steady. The percussion is a major strength, hammering out beats fast and slow, thrashing and gentle. The melodies carved out in the latter half are, perhaps, the best chunks on the disc. But it is the title track that delivers the biggest blow; more stripped down than the previous tracks, its simplicity is an asset few would appreciate on first listen. But much like some of the more known shoegaze artists, Vaarwel creates atmosphere where it would seem to be most difficult. There is a visual component here that is hard to explain; the artwork seems to be the perfect representation of the song itself.

Split EPs usually fall into one of two categories: they are either themed or random. The latter usually provides for artists to contribute songs that were from other recordings, or simply a platform to release a disc together. The former, like this release, takes two artists that share a common love, and gives them a platform to make music that works together. Both Petrychor and Frozen Ocean are bonafide artists in their own right; both have back catalogs that are diverse and growing. But on one album, back to back and side by side, they make even more sense. The common theme makes sense, aesthetically and sonically, for both bands to expand upon. They share traits, but never leave themselves sounding too much like the other. And that individuality is what makes this offering even more prolific. Both make you feel as though you can see the leaves changing color, or the hear the creaking tree limbs above you. But they give you that imagery from different vantage points. Two parts of the same whole, or two wholes in the same scheme; either way, "Autumn Bridges" is a split with sharing.

8/10

Petrychor
Official Site - http://www.petrychor.com/
Bandcamp - http://petrychor.bandcamp.com/

Frozen Ocean
Official Site - http://frozen-ocean.net/