Imst – North Frontenac (2011, Brainstream Records)

If you have been an avid reader on the site for the past few months, you may remember a review I did of Imst’s “Vanishing Point“. Otherwise, I will gladly re-introduce Imst to you if you don’t remember the review or have never heard of him before. Imst is the ambient project of Ottawa-based recording artist Adam Feibel. His last album contained music that reminded me of Lowercase Noises, but yet, Adam managed to create his own unique sound on that album. This new EP, “North Frontenac”, takes the sound a bit further, but shows that something has changed since the last album. The sound here is darker and more mature, with a bit of neo-classical tendencies. The majority of the EP contains synthesized strings and pianos, and it’s obvious that it doesn’t sound as realistic as a string quartet or a grand piano. Then again, it doesn’t matter, because it’s the beautifully melancholic melodies here that breathe life into the instruments. Imst’s “North Frontenac” is a stunningly dark and mature neo-classical EP that shows a sense of both open space and clautrophobia at times.

The opener, “The Tundra”, begins with synthesized strings playing emotional chords, along with the sound effects of the wind blowing across a landscape. Shortly, a minimal piano riff enters, along with other strange instrumentation such as the sounds of ice or glass. Throughout the opener, it boasts these synthesized instruments and effects played to beautiful lengths, sounding about as wide and open as a real tundra. It is strongly emotional and stunningly produced, and from the onset, you know you’re about to hear some pretty mature stuff. A great track overall.

The second track, “Great Minds Turn Inward”, begins with beautiful piano chords before entering a huge cinematic section of melodic piano melodies and sweeping strings. I say cinematic because this is something that could be played in a film. Who knows what it could be played under? The aftermath of a disaster? A funeral? A break-up between two lovers? It is that emotionally impacting and mature that it could literally work under any intense scene. Towards the end, a soft drum beat plays in the background before ending out with a soft piano line. Another brilliant track on this EP. The third track, “Tiny Vandals”, begins with a melancholic piano melody and some strange percussive sounds in the background. Eventually, string pads enter along with some vocal samples that are hard to make out directly, sounding as though they are coming from a dying lo-quality radio. The strings here sweep up into higher notes, giving the composition some sense of movement and dynamics as it goes along. At times, the sounds of glockenspiels and church bells can be heard in the distance as well. This is the shortest track on the EP, but it still is a good addition concerning the dark and mature musical themes here.

The fourth track, “Locked In An Empty Room”, begins with soft string pads and piano melodies. Later on, more of the hugely cinematic string sections can be heard, along with some electronic vibraphones or glass synths at times. The sound here is about as dark as the rest of the EP, but the difference is it does give some relief and feelings of hope at times, as if the listener knows that soon, the person who is locked in this empty room will eventually find his or her way out, though there are not necessarily any happy notes in this piece either. The last piece, “North Frontenac”, is about as emotional and intense as the EP gets. Melancholic piano chords and melodies, along with huge and yet again cinematic-sounding strings set the mood here. This piece actually reminds me yet again of a funeral, or rather a very close friend having to leave their family and friends. Also, the tundra noises on the opening track are also present again on this track, bringing the EP full circle. Near the end, electronic glass chords, pads, and piano end the track out, thus ending this EP.

Overall, Imst’s “North Frontenac” is a huge improvement over his last album. Whereas “Vanishing Point” was about the happiness, nostalgia, and everything in-between of life, “North Frontenac” is about the not-so-happy moments of life. It is an intensely emotional, dark, and mature EP, and though you can tell all the instrumentation is synthesized, still, it’s all about how Imst is able to breathe life into these instruments in order to create a riveting EP. Here, Imst succeeds with flying colors. If you are a huge fan of ambient and modern classical music, or are looking for something different, this EP will most likely interest you. Highly recommended listening.

Title: North Frontenac

Artist: Imst

Genre: Ambient/modern classical/electronic

Released in 2011 by Brainstream Records

You can buy the CD (limited to 17 copies) and listen to audio samples here: http://imst.bandcamp.com/album/north-frontenac. However, if you are looking for a digital copy of the album, Imst has allowed me to give everyone the Mediafire link to the album (note that it is in RAR format, so make sure you have a proper extractor like 7-Zip): http://www.mediafire.com/?7xdl9ndb07az88n

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