Frequency Drift

Personal Effects, Pt. 1

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Personal Effects, Pt. 1 is Frequency Drift's debut album. This German quintet calls its music "cinematic prog rock," a rather vague though accurate description. In fact, Personal Effects fits squarely into the neo-prog genre, evoking simultaneously the darker side of Pallas, Marillion's Brave, and Janison Edge's The Services of Mary Goode. Why? In the first case, for the squarely pushed melodies; in the second, for the ethereal feel of the music and the splintered-chronology concept album; in the third, for the well-controlled voice of lead singer Katja Hübner. She is the album's main attraction, not that she has a particularly stunning tone or range, but what she has she uses with flair, sensibility, and good taste. The album tells an a-chronological (and incomplete, hence "Part One") story set in the mid-21st century. There are two main characters in play: River, a girl who has lived through a traumatic experience and struggles with resurfacing memories, and the enigmatic Romance, whose part in the plot might become clearer in part two. Not unlike the television show Lost, the action consists of flashbacks and jumbled cut scenes. However puzzling the story may be, it does add a welcome dimension to the group's somewhat unidimensional songs. The musicians are proficient, the singer is pleasant, and some of the songs are downright catchy, especially "Albatross," "Fall" and "Anger," but Personal Effects remains a predictable European progressive rock offering. Quality? Yes. Originality? No. Yet, this is very decent work for a first album. However, if this group is fronted by a good singer, it still needs to find its own voice.

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