Freq – Gosub 20 (Iboga)

Posted in Reviews 2006 by - August 17, 2006

It can’t be easy to be Freq. 2004’s Strange Attractors is, in many people’s eyes, THE progressive album. Along with Son Kite’s Colours, it opened the door to the nu-breed of progressive that acted as a solid antithesis to the increasingly dull fullon that was making us more jaded and faded than Willie Nelson’s 501’s.

Gosub 20, the “tricky” followup album, is awkward. Freq comes across as a guy unsure of what he’s supposed to be doing, or who his audience is. Brazil is a decent mix of progressive and fullon – pitch it up to +3, and it sounds not entirely unlike Alien Project circa DJ Where Are You. While it may be without the glassy wonder of his previous output, it’s an above-adequate return – but nothing more. Space Noodle has more confidence, and some sweet little melodies over the top. Again, however, it lacks that certain something we’ve come to expect from Freq – it moves well enough, the tickle factor is just about there… but by the time the relentless chord changes come in at the end, you’re wondering if you’re listening to Protoculture.

Likewise Silent Circuits, a ten-minute expedition into the world of Nano records, and as such something we really didn’t need. Byte Me has a tighter groove, coupled with some interesting sounds over the top, yet once again is more in keeping with morning fullon than anything progressive. It’s as though he’s become bored of progressive trance, and is pressing down on that accelerator pedal a little more with each track.

Stone Shaker is bloody awful: an interesting glitchy break gives way to an Eskimo-bothering peak and something that sounds like Atomic Pulse, except with more keychanges. It’s a mess. Beatstreet attempts some sort of tight electroey stuff, the groove seems to be set to deliberately miss a beat (or something) but the overall effect is a uniquely uneventful piece of dullard music.

What A Feeling has a solidly recognisable pattern, over which Freq slaps some ticklish-ethereal sounds at the top and some hefty keychange action at the end. Not bad, but it sounds like he’s trying very hard to sound like himself – and let’s face it, there are better Freq-imitators out there at the moment. Singularity Part 2 is intricate but ultimately uninspiring, and while the token downtempo endtrack Aisha is pretty nice, it’s not what we wanted. Which sort of sums up the whole thing really.

You can’t help but think that the pressing plant may have mixed up Protoculture’s Refractions followup with this. This isn’t a direction Freq needed to take, and only his previous output is keeping him from being written off altogether. As one of the most eagerly-anticipated albums of the year, it’s sadly a definite upset.

 

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