Freya Arde is an award-winning composer, guitarist and music producer. Her 5-track EP “Spirit Awake” is a peaceful, mystical and perfectly cohesive musical wander through an enchanted forest.
Freya creates enveloping soundscapes combining acoustic instrumentation with audio processing and electronics. On “Spirited Awake” the soundscapes revolve around the guitar, which often plays hypnotic, minimalist melodies.
The first track adeptly named “Peaceful” is a calm and soothing introduction to this immersive sonic landscape. Beautifully recorded and performed acoustic guitar combines with a subtle bed of drone-like strings bowed softly to create a piece that allows itself time to breathe. The electronic elements are subtle and tasteful in the form of occasional glitch elements in the background, creating a gentle tapestry of sound, the illusion of a summer rain that comes and goes.
With “Spirit Awake”, we pick up the pace, an ostinato on plucked guitar urging us to advance into further exploration of the sound world that Freya creates. It is a pleasant surprise when the multiple layers of guitars momentarily give way to haunting vocalising, magnificently joined later by the lush sound of the cello.
When hearing the words ‘ambient music’ and ‘guitar’, one would be automatically inclined to look for references from Robert Fripp’s music. Freya’s guitar is very different, but perhaps “Tears of the Forest” is the first piece where we thought we could make out faint echoes of frippertronics. Perhaps a more adept comparison is to some of Daniel Lanois’ ambient work, in terms of the processed electric guitar that is also present in the tracks that follow.
“Featherlike” continues with the same instrumentation and timbres, only now there is more processing, the glitches and noises are brought further towards the foreground. The piece builds towards one single significant moment: the fleeting dissonance right before three minutes in, no more than a passing cloud in the sky before the peaceful resolve.
We are almost at the end of the journey with “Lying down after a long day”. Here Freya continues her exploration of sound, with unobtrusive nods to musique concrete. We feel as if we are hearing echoes of the previous pieces, only transformed, as if the spirit is wandering now through the land of dreams, with scattered reflections of the day’s previous stroll through the woods. And when the journey is over, we feel sorry that it has ended.