CD, Force Of Nature, 2008
With a mixture of foreboding experimental electronics and carefully modulated, spacious ambiences, Freeze Etch strives to capture a hard sci-fi theme (think of the album title, not to mention tracks like “Soarover” and “Freight Memory”), yet somehow misses its grasp at galactic brilliance. “Vessels” is the first full-length from the artist, though its tracks were produced between 2003 and 2006. Two of these (“Deadly” and “Vehicularism”), out of eleven total, were previously included on the limited “Pejorative” EP (2007). Although the body of material here isn’t necessarily fresh, it may reflect an artist finding his stride.
The disc starts out strong with the plaintive, resonating tones and gritty symphonics of “Another Moving Vessel,” setting expectations high. Sinister, spiraling “Deadly” follows, but what happens next is a disappointment. Aptly titled “Aneurysms” (it just might cause one) cuts into the burgeoning mood of potent dark electronics with whipping tendrils of high-pitched squealing that ricochet over a repetitive drone pattern – unexpected and interesting from a sound/construct standpoint, but also rather annoying. “Soarover” attempts recovery with a body of banal orchestral passages overlaid by shuddering, atrophying noise, only to further suspicions that “Vessels” is going nowhere fast. Perhaps timelessness is what Freeze Etch is after, a goal better served by patience, movement and minimalism than filling empty space. Topping eleven minutes, epic “Slight Rite” contains grand passages and much potential, yet drags on, an automaton set to task.
Suffice to say, the majority of “Vessels” seems bereft of substance. Its compelling parts often shine in awkward moments, and Freeze Etch requires the listener to wait too long (and endure undue harshness) for the really good stuff. “Boundward” arrives halfway through the “Vessels” journey, delivering a phenomenal take on tribal post-industrial, its chants and otherworldly calls shouting out against the void. Later “Freight Memory” pulses, surges and clicks in a way that puts less minimal tracks to shame, and moody ambient album closer “Asunder” trails away properly, like a cometary tail. Freeze Etch has a destination in mind, and doubtless the imagination to reach it, but must fine tune the trajectory or sail off course.
— Dutton Hauhart