Frost* - 13 Winters

Frost* – 13 Winters

Thirteen winters, a long time out in the cold.

So what do you get from the Frost* beast, and the imagination of founder Jem Godfrey, along with John Mitchell, Craig Blundell, Nathan King, Dec Burke and several more?

A rather nice art book that has lyrics, pretty pictures, loads of sleevenotes explaining the songs, history, and other aspects that make up Frost*. I am late to the Frost* camp, picking up first Falling Satellites, and then The Philadelphia Experiment (nothing to do with soft cheese, or maybe it is?) at Summer’s End when we gathered in the Drill Hall in Chepstow, as socially un-distanced as you can imagine. I miss those days and the gathering of a few TPA scribes who would chew the fat and discuss what Roger feeds his hair piece. But we shall gloss over that, somethings best forgotten and forgiven, it’s only human.

In terms of the music here, you get 2020 remasters of Milliontown, Experiments in Mass Appeal, Falling Satellites (plus the Falling Satellites instrumentals and Falling Satellites live), The Philadelphia Experiment (2017), the Others EP and This and That. Eight discs of high-quality music, so if you have no Frost* it’s an excellent way to buy.

Some albums are the same as reviewed previously, however with the re-mastering John Mitchell has tweaked the sound, making them even more sonically assured than before. We did not review Milliontown, Experiments in Mass Appeal or the live The Philadelphia Experiment, so I shall try to sum them up quickly.

Milliontown was the first Frost* album, arising from Jem Godfrey’s desire to produce something more than chart material, and even if you don’t identify with Jem, you would be aware of the successful artists he wrote for, including Atomic Kitten, Shayne Ward and Holly Valance. This first album is like a crossover, there are some great pop sensibilities, some superb harmonies, and a vocal presentation not too dissimilar to Crowded House. It’s incredibly good, though I’m sure the prog traditionalists would have bucked a little at the material. Then there’s the blending of electronica with the more usual instrumentation expected by progressive fans. This was my first hearing of Milliontown, and though I have heard one or two tunes before, back at its inception I would have been quite excited. Snowman was the first I heard, via a mash-up by Tiger Moth Tales’ Peter Jones, blended with Genesis’ Snowbound my interest was piqued. One of two friends had mentioned Falling Satellites, so that was where I left orbit and landed. Milliontown was harder to get hold of for some reason, so I didn’t. Listening now, you can see the path of development, Frost* at the close of play has very much its own sound, and very satisfying it is, but in the beginning, it was for anyone used to the charts, challenging in a nice way. Your attention was required for a little more than three minutes.

Experiments… diverged further from the path of chart, a search for the North West Passage, longer songs, interesting changes and very entertaining. One drummer out, new drummer in, and in Craig Blundell they had one of best drummers around. Although the pop element was still there, the tunes were a little more edgy, and a little more rock electronica. Definitely progressive, Jem was still writing a nice tune, but with far less teen angst. (Blokes are eternal teenagers, even those that say not, just tell them a fart joke… see?)

So, studio wise came Falling Satellites, presented for you here in Studio, Instrumental and Live versions. They all hold up to scrutiny, and I suppose the instrumental can serve as Karaoke, should you wish. The Philadelphia Experiment is a particularly good live representation, although my original differs in having an amusing introduction, and extras you find on a separate disc here. Strangely, I have broken this review down, highlighting tracks, and Jem’s Gems. Each album makes a fair representation in its own right, I find I enjoy them best in their entirety and, in many ways, I wish to leave that pleasure of discovery to you.

At around £45, this is an excellent package: value for money, a nice book/booklet with some cracking arty photos, a breakdown of songs and meanings, a multitude of lyrics, and a lot of entertainment. The remastering is great, wonderful – and it wasn’t bad first time around. I do wonder because of the nature of the contents if this is not the end of ‘Phase I’ of Frost*. A new album is in the pipeline for 2021, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is quite different. I’ll wait and see.

The last little gem in this package is the B-sides, not found anywhere else, different takes, opening with The Dividing Line, 16-minutes of wonderful music. It seems like a cross between Goldfrapp and Muse, and I love it, toes tapping, and if the blinds are down, maybe a little grooving (is that still a word? Am I old? Is fuggin’ still allowed?). At the end of 16-minutes, I’m still smiling, that is a good thing, and there is a fair element of weirdness in this opening track.

For progressive fans who are traditionalists, these albums might be your worst nightmare. It’s progressive, it’s popular music plus, and has qualities that are possibly unique to Frost*. To me, this all seems good. Yes, it is a boxed set remastered, tweaked, and arguably made better. There is little new here, but I still think it is a beautifully put together package, probably worth the purchase for believers, and an excellent buy for those still to be convinced. It is a limited package, I think I saw the figure 3,000, so who’s going to buy me one then?

Disc 1: Milliontown (2006) Remaster 2020

01. Hyperventilate (Remaster 2020) (7:30)
02. No Me No You (Remaster 2020) (6:08)
03. Snowman (Remaster 2020) (3:54)
04. Black Light Machine (Remaster 2020) (10:08)
05. The Other Me (Remaster 2020) (4:48)
06. Milliontown (Remaster 2020) (26:09)

Time – 58:37

Disc 2: Experiments in Mass Appeal (2008) Remix/Remaster 2020
01. Experiments in Mass Appeal (Remix/Remaster 2020) (7:54)
02. Welcome to Nowhere (Remix/Remaster 2020) (5:32)
03. Pocket Sun (Remix/Remaster 2020) (4:29)
04. Saline (Remix/Remaster 2020) (6:09)
05. Dear Dead Days (Remix/Remaster 2020) (6:50)
06. Falling Down (Remix/Remaster 2020) (5:50)
07. You/I (Remix/Remaster 2020) (1:05)
08. Toys (Remix/Remaster 2020) (3:05)
09. Wonderland (Remix/Remaster 2020) (5:54)
10. The Secret Song (Remix/Remaster 2020) (8:21)

Time – 55:09

Disc 3: Falling Satellites (2016) Remaster 2020
01. First Day (Remaster 2020) (1:39)
02. Numbers (Remaster 2020) (4:21)
03. Towerblock (Remaster 2020) (6:13)
04. Signs (Remaster 2020) (6:35)
05. Lights Out (Remaster 2020) (3:51)
06. Heartstrings (Remaster 2020) (6:20)
07. Closer to the Sun (Remaster 2020) (7:20)
08. The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues In 7/8 (Remaster 2020) (7:49)
09. Nice Day For It (Remaster 2020) (6:37)
10. Hypoventilate (Remaster 2020) (2:00)
11. Last Day (Remaster 2020) (3:25)

Time – 56:10

Disc 4: Falling Satellites – Instrumentals (2016) Remaster 2020
01. First Day (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (1:39)
02. Numbers (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (4:21)
03. Towerblock (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (6:13)
04. Signs (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (6:35)
05. Lights Out (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) 3:51)
06. Heartstrings (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (6:21)
07. Closer to the Sun (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (7:20)
08. The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues in 7/8 (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (7:49)
09. Nice Day For It (Instrumental/Remaster 2020) (6:37)

Time – 56:10

Disc 5: Falling Satellive – Live at Dingwalls, London 2017
01. Numbers (4:45)
02. Towerblock (7:48)
03. Signs (7:18)
04. Lights Out (5:40)
05. Heartstrings 6:02)
06. Closer to the Sun (7:35)
07. The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues In 7/8 (7:49)
08. Nice Day For It (6:44)
09. Hypoventilate (1:02)
10. Last Day (3:45)

Time – 58:28

Disc 6: Others EP
01. Fathers (4:54)
02. Clouda (6:54)
03. Exhibit A (5:35)
04. Fathom (3:58)
05. Eat (4:39)
06. Drown (5:59)

Time – 31:59

Disc 7: The Philadelphia Experiment – Live at The Keswick Theatre, Glenside, 2nd May 2009
01. Intro (2:06)
02. Hyperventilate (5:55)
03. Wonderland (4:56)
04. Black Light Machine (10:29)
05. Snowman (6:18)
06. Saline (6:16)
07. Milliontown (25:58)
08. The Other Me (7:19)

Time – 69:17

Disc 8: This and That – B-Sides And Rarities
01. The Dividing Line (16:50)
02. Lantern (3:45)
03. British Wintertime (6:29)
04. The Forget You Song (2:24)
05. Numbers (Day 1 Demo) (4:14)
06. Towerblock (Day 1 Demo) (3:01)
07. Heartstrings (Demo) (5:00)
08. Closer To The Sun (Demo) (7:16)
09. The Raging Against the Dying of the Light In 7/8 (Day 1 Demo) (7:54)
10. Last Day (Demo) (2:48)
11. Hyperventilate Hypoventilate Paulstretch Test 8:53

Time – 68:34

Total Time – 454:24

Jem Godfrey – Vocals, Keyboards, Chapman Railboard
John Mitchell – Guitars, Vocals
Nathan King – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals (2009-present)
John Jowitt – Bass Guitar (2004-2009)
Andy Edwards – Drums (2004-2011)
John Boyes – Guitars (2004-2006)
Declan Burke – Vocals, Guitars (2008-2009)
Craig Blundell – Drums (2009–2019)

Record Label: InsideOut Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 20th November 2020

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