Time Passengers CD Cover
Image © 1998 MATIZ Music Productions

Album Review

© Russell W Elliot 1998

Originally Published: 04 October 1998 | Last Updated: 25 November 2001

We first heard the upbeat and melodic new age song "Worlds Of Wonder" by the group F.R.E.U.D. on the Earthtone label's Elevation (ETD-7801) compilation. The CD features tracks from existing and forthcoming albums by a variety of up and coming new age artists with a range of different sounds. In addition to the brand new "Massai Rain" by Miriam Stockley and "Librarsi" by Marcomé, the album features "Worlds Of Wonder" by F.R.E.U.D and twelve additional tracks laced in dreamy instrumentals accompanied primarily by whispy to melodic female vocals. With a vast array of wonderful music, we believe the album is worth a long distance journey and gave it our four-star (****) rating on the first listen.

Time Passengers (ETD-7804) is F.R.E.U.D.'s stunning debut album. The band seem to have arrived from nowhere and with a sound at times very similar to Enya, they are certain to make an impact on the new age chart. There are no clues either in the music itself or in the well-produced liner notes accompanying the CD where their name has come from. The full stops (".") within the name need to be used to find the band in on-line shops and internet search engines.

The group features the heavenly melodic vocals of Dublin-based Cora O'Donovan. Compositions and keyboards come from Hamburg via Ingo Hauss; the English lyrics and percussion are by Hamburg-based Hayo Panarinfo. A wide variety of international session musicians have contributed an extensive range of instrumental accompaniment to the album. Although recording was done in Germany, additional production was done in Southampton (Hampshire, England). How unusual to find a wonderful European collaboration like this making their debut on an American label.

The songs range from the highly accessible and almost pop-sounding "Worlds Of Wonder" to the bluesy "Skies Above Loveland" to the dreamy, almost Gothic, heavily instrumental texture of the title track. Arrangement and production are rich throughout with equally influential treatment of the deepest bass and highest flute. Synthesizer is used to wonderful effect to lay a rich foundation for Cora's stunning vocals. Choral elements blend into the instrumentals in several non-lyrical passages.

"Euphoria" is an upbeat and melodic new age track heavily laced with vocal energy, synthesizer, guitar and bass. Combined with Cora O'Donovan's multi-tracked lead vocals, the choir is used to great effect to produce a very rich overall sound. Although remaining vocal-led, "The Miracle Of Moona" demonstrates the diversity of the group's instrumental talents with a more extensive display of string passages provided by guitar, violin and piano. Synthesizer effectively links the instrumental elements of the almost epic-production together.

An almost dance-oriented track called "Eternal" further explores the band's diverse range of talents. Here dreamy multi-tracked vocals carry above percussion- and bass-provided rhythms. Both choir and whispery vocals are used to create the overall sound.

"Fairyland," like "Worlds Of Wonder" is a highly accessible, almost pop-sounding track with lead vocal equally balanced with instrumental and rhythmic backing. Instrumental bridges feature very delicate acoustic guitar and wonderful keyboard passages. The chorus has quite a hook.

Perhaps the msot powerful string session on the album can be heard in "History Of The Sandman" which features both violin and piano. An almost-Gregorian chant provides a rich bass texture to the song.

With a chorus that reminds us in structure of a lullaby, the 6:48-long "Sleep" is one of the more Enya-sounding songs on the album in the way the backing vocals and instrumentals underscore and support the lead vocals. Brief whispy narrative passages within the song join instrumental bridges to connect the choruses. This is a stunning song that most fully illustrates Cora's vocal energy and Hauss' composition skills.

The album concludes with two instrumental-based tracks almost absent of vocals. Natural rain sounds are produced electronically to effectively support the relaxing theme of "Rain Temple" while the church organ completes the templeeffect. "Minuit" begins with a highly industrial texture delivered with simulated air traffic control radio traffic before the synthesizers take over the song.

Although we were attracted to this album initially by it's Enya-like qualities, clearly the group have done a lot more in their eleven debut album tracks. Time Passangers is a truly excellent new age album -- and a wonderful discovery -- that illustrates tremendous diversity of a new ensemble of talented musicians. With effective publicity and associated airplay, we fully expect to see a lot more of F.R.E.U.D. in the future. The album is available at amazon.com here.

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