Their first album in 8 years (during which time the band disbanded and reformed), Falling Satellites is the much anticipated third album from Jem Godrey’s Frost*. Their critically acclaimed debut album Milliontown remains one of my favorite prog albums, and while I wasn’t as into the follow-up in 2008 Experiments In Mass Appeal (the mix on the first two tracks was strange, with the quiet sections being barely audible and the loud sections blowing out your speakers) I was excited to hear what was next for the band.
The intro to the album, ‘First Day’, is a soft ambient song with some orchestral backing and ethereal vocals that transitions wonderfully into the opening riff of ‘Numbers’, played on a Chapman Railboard. This song has a lot of depth and a lot going on. The vocals are layered perfectly on top of the instruments and backing tracks. It sets the upbeat tone of the album, which is about fully enjoying life, as it is so extraordinarily rare and brief.
Next is ‘Towerblock’, an odd song full of strange background sounds that features some unexpected glitch pop near the beginning that leads into a keyboard solo in Jem’s signature style. The harmonized vocals at 3:20 lead into more solos as the song builds and grows heavier leading up to a climactic riff at 5:20 which glitches into a crashing conclusion.
‘Signs’ starts out with just drumming and vocals until the rest of band kicks in. The riff about half way through the song has a great build up as different instruments are added through each repeat starting with the drums from the beginning, this time heavier, and eventually starts to speed up leading into another nice riff. The song ends as an orchestral keyboard leads back into the chorus and then fades seamlessly into ‘Lights Out’.
‘Lights Out’ is a softer song that ends the first half of the album. Tori Beaumont’s female vocals paired with Jem’s adds a nice dynamic. This is a nice break in the middle of the album, to prepare you for the epic second half.
The last 6 songs on the album form the 33-minute suite “Sunlight.” This begins with Heartstrings which was the single for the album. This was also the oldest song written, as it appeared on ‘The Rocklfield Files’ DVD back in 2013, and was co-written by John Mitchell. This is a standout track on the album with its catchy hooks and enticing melodies. The track ends with an ambient passage easing right into ‘Closer To The Sun.’
This track is very atmospheric and has an otherworldly feel to it. It is almost absent of guitar until around the 3 minute mark where Joe Satriani appears with a guest solo. This solo fits in perfectly and really sounds amazing on top of Jem’s backing track. Jem plays a keyboard solo after Satriani’s as the intensity continues to build, reminding me of something off of ‘Milliontown.’
Next we’re thrust abruptly into ‘The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues in ⅞’ (isn’t that a mouthful). This track begins with some hard riffs and talk box guitar effects. It has some jarring transitions that keeps up the momentum. The title of the album appears in the lyrics throughout this track “I’m nothing but a falling satellite.” There is some impressive drumming by Craig Blundell near the end, leading into ‘Nice Day For It…’. This is another one with some heavy ‘Milliontown’ influence, being mostly instrumental and full of insane keyboard solos along with some great bass lines from Nathan King.
Next is Hypoventilate (similar title to ‘Milliontown’s’ opening track, HypERventilate) an ambient transitional song that leads into the ending.
The last track, ‘Last Day’ is a simple piano and vocal track that is a somber ending to the album, describing the feelings of someone’s last day of life, as they reflect on what they’ve left behind.
This album is a great return for the band, with Jem’s writing reaching a whole new level. There’s quite a bit of variety in the songs and the album goes unexpected and wondrous places. It’s the true follow-up to Milliontown. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 8 years for the next one! Definitely give this wonderful album a listen.
A press copy of the album was used for this review.
1. First Day – 01:37
2. Numbers – 04:22
3. Towerblock – 06:14
4. Signs – 06:37
5. Lights Out – 03:52
Sunlight – 33:12
6. Pt. I Heartstrings – 06:20
7. Pt. II Closer To The Sun – 07:20
8. Pt. III The Raging Against The Dying Of The Light Blues In 7/8 – 07:49
9. Pt. IV Nice Day For It… – 06:37
10. Pt. V Hypoventilate – 02:00
11. Pt. VI Last Day – 03:02
Total running time: 55:55
Release date: 2016/5/27
Label: InsideOut Music
File type listened to: MP3
Bit rate: 192kbps
Sampling frequency: 44,100 Hz, 2 channels