Frozen Prism






Frozen Prism is a nine-track album by Winnipeg, Manitoba-based artist Telozkope, released in August 2014 on Earth’s safest sanctuary Dream Catalogue where dreams (ever had one?) come true time and again. Available to fetch and stream at Bandcamp, Frozen Prism stands out in quite a different and meaningful way, even in case the respective listener might not like the style that unfolds in Telozkope’s intrinsic worlds. The Canadian artist, however, approaches Vaporwave and its adjacent genres from a different angle, as shown on his previous works, among them the recently reviewed Equanaimo (2014). While Telozkope does inject a fair share of public service announcements, Japanese gibberish and sampled material, the overwhelming majority of Frozen Prism is created – not just curated – by the artist himself! Cue a second or third exclamation mark if you like, for the synths, textures and stems are only ever heard on this album. Whereas Equanaimo depicted a marimbarama, a lush jungle with Aztec ruins and mysteries, it is specifically the latter part which enters the flickering spotlight of Frozen Prism, namely said mysteries. The mood is strangely apocalyptic, or if that’s too bold a word, let me offer the term portentous. There is something in the air, and air the listener shall breathe aplenty: in lieu of gazillion layers of technodrome synths, aural aerobics or breakbeat callisthenics, Telozkope ventures into the synthetic realms of Manchester electronics, desperado deserts and other seething places. Read more about a real album which isn’t necessarily over(t)ly about Vaporwave but shares its fair amount of sentiments regardless.


It’s a tradition that every Vaporwave album at least hints at a witty commercial with a pinch of useful information. Enter the besotted, lovestoned, boner fide caravan of love called ❤ INFOMERCIAL ❤ , an aeriform Mediterranean cloistered courtyard with cheeky Japanese girls and purposefully cheap snares. It’s plastic fantastic and sooo archetypical, but the follow-up Hazelwind is already unexpectedly sophisticated in its traditional heritage, as it reminds of the 90’s IDM phase as kicked off by labels like Warp or R&S. Indeed, the ambience factor is huge and utterly soothing, with temple bells and acidic droplets forming an alluring unison that is rounded off by a Jungle or Drum’n’Bass staccatorama of scything sizzles and plinks. If this were released as a single, it could stand on its own feet, as it does not necessarily embody the odor of Vaporwave. Up next is Japanada (stylized in big letters), and with it returns the rather desiccate, emaciated state of the opener. A certain density, however, is unfurled via the stacking of the Flamenco guitars, ornamental blips and glockenspiel driblets. Rather remote and withdrawn it is, but the wonky-raucous ホーンテッド (Haunted) comes to the rescue and throws the listener in a sparsely furnished mansion of faux-friendly twilight square syrinxes and similarly crepuscular Hip-Hop pads. A dubious interstice.


Up next is what one calls, er, ಆರೋಹಣ which is the album’s ligneous woodpecker coppice that feels less frozen than the album title suggests and rather ventures into the marimba-esque sound I love so much. Helical and bleepy, with absconded splinters decorticated from the Mana tree, the jungular atmosphere is soothingly accompanied by wondrous and cautiously looming synth streamlets. It is these legato pads that somehow turn things around and add the icy counterpoint to the lush jungle… not that the artistry of the Crysis game had done that before. Whereas 奇数侍 (which means odd page for whatever reason) is an interlude of 90+ seconds loaded with dark rufescent piano movements, cheap handclaps and actually superbly iridescent emerald gongs, Cold Front revs up the low frequency range via Oldfield-like dark matter illuminants amid an agglutinating sine tone photometry. Since these tones are all blurred and situated in lower regions, the result is tastefully streamlined and silken. A titration of BGM fantasies and 16-bit memorabilia follows in the shape of YOU WIN (here I deliver the capital letters with joy), a glittering tohubohu of blips, blobs and blebs which hue the male service announcer in a décor d’amour digital. The shortest of all tracks, it is just a twinkling interlude, but the euphony cannot be ignored, not even when it is chopped and sliced. The finale 先へ (to the destination) then guards and guides the listener to the phase where Frozen Prism has come full circle: synthetic sunset guitars of the acoustic kind mesh with aqueous harp tones and argentine chippers. Laid-back yet strangely charged with anticipation and portent, this endpoint paints a dichotomous future and could be considered the calm before the storm.


With the exception of Hazelwind and YOU WIN, the latter of which quite obviously carries domination and emotional superfluids in its title already, Frozen Prism as a whole is tentatively enigmatic, shrouded in mysteries and reliant on pastel tones rather than neon-hued technicolor candy shops. This is, both in terms of Vaporwave in general and in regard to the Dream Catalogue label in particular, a most unusual approach. Naturally, it is a welcome endeavor nonetheless, one which captures the label’s oneiric promise in a different way. Here, the dream-like diorama does not unfold via luxurious synths or with the help of slowed-down Disco coquettes, no, Telozkope goes all-in and creates almost everything from scratch, minus the occasional appearance of human voices among the journey. The mystery setting is a boon, as stated before, but there is something else embroidered here that is worth for Telozkope to rely on in future works: the rhythm and percussion patterns are astonishing and eclectic in the best possible way. They may be the hardest to create, but on the plus side, they make it easy to convince the listener and lure him or her with the labyrinthine serration that comes with them. Even the most somnolent circumambience is augmented with feinted percussion and short segues. No huge drums are dropped, the effect is more subtle but leaves a larger impact than those medulla-emptying club-compatible kickdrums. Frozen Prism is a great hand-made addition to the label. It is worth to seek out this retrogressive but quite withdrawn, infinitesimally earthbound artifact.


Further listening and reading: 

  • You can fetch and stream Frozen Prism at Bandcamp
  • Telozkope’s Twitter handle: @telozkope.


Ambient Review 368: Telozkope – Frozen Prism (2014). Originally published on Aug. 20, 2014 at