Frost* - Milliontown

Year of Release: 2006
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 252/SPV 79092
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:07:00

In most cases musicians who are well known for their activity within the prog community might try their luck at writing a pop tune, hoping they might finally earn a decent living. In the case of Jem Godfrey it kind of works the other way around. Together with his partner Bill Padley, Jim formed the nucleus of the Wise Buddah Music corporation who is famed for its radio programme production, jingles, music production, composition and remixes. They have written songs for Atomic Kitten, Blue, Ronan Keating, Lula and Samantha Mumba whilst scoring chart success with Holly Vallance, Atomic Kitten and X-Factor talent show winner Shane Ward. So Jem Godfrey has nothing else to prove in the music business except to himself. Thanks to his older brother's record collection, which, amongst others contained Genesis, Jem had this idea to record a prog album just for his own pleasure. Initially there was no intent to even release it. Having been heavily involved in his own musical world, he lost track of what had happened in the current domain of prog, so he went out and bought around thirty new releases. Amongst them was the Kino debut album, which he liked tremendously. When he noticed that Kino's guitar player was also the man behind The Urbane, whilst being a member of Arena, he immediately contacted John Mitchell with the intention to let him play the guitar parts. John obliged and brought with him his buddy John Jowitt and IQ's new drummer Andy Edwards. By then the prog project had become more than that, evolving into a true band. The result became Milliontown, a perfect example how prog should sound in the 21st Century!

The solitary phone box placed in a desolated winter landscape enhances the cold feel which perfectly fits a name like Frost*. With all the music written and conceived by Jem Godfrey, the piano becomes a vital element in his compositions helped out by new synth sounds. "I hate it when new prog acts still indulge themselves to mellotron and Moog synthesizers," Jem says. The opening track "Hyperventilate" places almost classical sounding piano back to back with fierce rocking guitar solo's and powerful drumming. Part of the arrangement does get close to the way Tony Banks approached his material on his solo album A Curious Feeling, yet that's as far as comparisons go. Godfrey lets voices sound like sheep during the intro for "No Me No You," backed with heavy guitar riffs soon followed by an overwhelming bass/drums collaboration that gets closer to contemporary rock than the true identity of prog. Again some Tony Banks approaches creep in with the piano demanding total silence before hell explodes, taking the song towards the kind of power you'd associate with bands such as Tool or The Mars Volta.

The fierce "The Other Me" not only includes the sound of an aggressive fly but also incorporates part of Gary Numan's world hit "Are Friends Electric" resulting in the kind of music which is very much "now" as opposed to harking back to the seventies. In working with all kinds of contemporary studio gadgets "The Other Me" perfectly fits in with the current roster of today's rock circus. Pizzicato guitar opens "Black Light Machine," delivering a lighter, more accessible sound. Panning and flanging opens a wide open space for the guitar to deliver yet another hot blistering guitar solo. After a dreamy sequence, it's full steam ahead resulting in a funky Herbie Hancock-like synth solo interspersed with studio effects and loops. When Jem Godfrey started recording his "dream" he was certain he wanted to write at least one epic. "In all of my life," he said, "I'd like to at least write and record one epic." So with the 26' long "Milliontown" already included on the Frost* debut, there's no guarantee we might encounter a second epic on future Frost* recordings. It's once again the piano that plays the lead during the intro. What can be expected from such a lengthy track is that it sounds like several separate ideas have been pasted together rather than the track being written as one coherent whole. The different ideas deliver an array of different atmospheres where once again the Tony Banks approach is apparent. Bang in the middle we find a classical piece which evolves into the treated vocals of Jem getting ever so close to Neal Morse material. After a succession of breaks and rhythm changes it's once again the piano that brings the calm back before it's all systems go for a very last time in order to end with a bang.

Having listened to Milliontown plenty of times before actually sitting down to write this review, I have come across new finds time after time. No doubt Jem's position as a successful producer has come in very handy, yet combined with the versatile quality of John Mitchell and with the added bonus of both John Jowitt and Andy Edwards, no doubt Frost* has found the right players to play in the premier league straight away. Maybe Milliontown will not win them a cup straight away, but they surely are a bunch to look out for, as I'm convinced their various talents will gel in order to become the perfect cohesion which will deliver a stunner of an album. Last year Kino's debut Picture became my "album of the year," so I wouldn't be at all surprised if John Mitchell hit the top spot for a second time in a row, yet this time as a member of Frost*. We'll know for sure in five months from now!

Among their upcoming live appearances, Frost* plays live at the ProgPassion2 festival held at De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Holland on October 14th and at the Rites of Spring Festival at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA on April 28, 2007.

Hyperventilate (7:31) / No Me No You (6)6:06) / Snowman (3:55) / The Other Me (4:51) / Black Light Machine (10:06) / Milliontown (26:35)

Jem Godfrey - keyboards, vocals
John Mitchell - guitars, vocals
Andy Edwards - drums
John Jowitt - bass
John Boyes - additional guitars

Milliontown (2006)
Frost Tour EP (avail. only on '08's tour) (2008)
Experiments In Mass Appeal (2008)
FrostFest Live CD (available from band website) (2009)
The Philadelphia Experiment (2010)
The Rockfield Files (2013)
Falling Satellites (2016)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 30th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 3083
Language: english


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