Airiel: Frosted (Clairerecords, 2003)

by Jason

wk_frosted_covers_editTechno influences from the 80’s are starting to crop up more and more in indie bands, and I, frankly, am glad for it. Bands like New Order and Pet Shop Boys were some of my favorite bands from my youth and now those bands are influencing a new generation of musicians. Airiel has incorporated some of those influences and combined them with layered guitars and shoegazer elements, making a unique sound. Vocally, Jeremy Wrenn can be compared with the lead singer of the Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant), yet he does not lack his own distinct sound.

Frosted is a part of something called the Winks and Kisses series put out by Airiel. It is a set of four ep’s that are being produced every 4 or 5 months. Frosted is the first in the series (winter 2002) with Dizzy already out (spring 2003) and two more discs to follow. I like that the band is able to leak out new tracks to their fans every couple of months, keeping people wanting more.

Frosted begins with “Liquid Paper.” The track begins with soft guitar and Jeremy draws you in with his subtle vocals. It is a medium tempo track with swimming keyboard sounds/washed out guitars as a sonic base for the bass and drums. The track is driven forward by the percussion while Jeremy fills out the meaning of the song with his lyrics and melody. Throughout the album, Jeremy‘s lyrics speak of relationships and seem to be very personal.

“Kiss Me Slowly” has a larger shoegazer influence than “Liquid Paper.” Shimmering guitars, driving base, and punctuated percussion undergird Jeremy‘s somewhat distant vocals. On this song more than any other, Jeremy‘s vocals are set back into the wall of sonic sound. Again, I would say this is a mid tempo song. One thing I like about Airiel‘s style is they don’t seem to want to rush through a song. They take their time to built subtle elements and sounds into their songs and don’t run away with the techno influence by producing some fast tempo over-wrought track that one would expect to find in a cheesy nightclub.

For me, “Rainflower” is the highlight of this ep. By far my favorite track on Frosted, it is a slow tempo track with subtle, shimmering guitar, tambourine accents, and a great bass line. Another thing I really like about his band is that Jeremy really is able to carry the songs. His melodies and vocal abilities are soothing, pleasant, and powerful all at the some time. With his vocals on top of the arrangements, I am sent back to a time when radio was playing great music and I bought tapes and vinyl as normal mediums.

“Halo” is also a slow tempo track. At first, I was put off by this track because it is so long, clocking in at 10:45. After a few listens, I changed my mind. It is such a quiet, subtle track that it is soothing, wonderful and paints a landscape with its shimmering guitars and pointed percussion. Although not entirely instrumental, this track is like a techno version of all the instrumental bands that have come out as of late (i.e. Saxon Shore, Early Day Miners, and Ester Drang). At about the 7 minute point, the song picks up and the guitars get louder. More layers are added and the drums become more alive and intricate. As the song proceeds, it comes to a crescendo that fades out at the end of the song. Jeremy adds fantastic lyrics to the shimmering music.

Say that I’ve done something wrong
I’ll take it back I swear
I just don’t want you to go
I’ve got designs for our life
and all I see is you
your eyes are stars that shine
and it’s made a halo, around your head
I can see you floating
It’s been a while since I felt
this way about someone
I’ve been all alone
couldn’t I stay just a while
I’ve got something for you
as the snow falls around you, like tiny stars

All in all, this ep is fantastic. I love the combination of 80’s sounds with those of more modern composition and Jeremy brings unique vocals to the current indie scene.

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