With his latest album Always There, Somewhere, Frond charts a journey of personal discovery through friendship. It’s a record about finding answers in each other, rather than from only within ourselves. Though the ideas formed pre-pandemic, the themes of social connection and tactility seem to foretell what we are now craving.
The key theme is about permanence. “Connections may be lost in time but our actions make their mark in history; they can’t be undone and will always be there, somewhere ” says the artist Richard Bultitude. One connection Richard valued immensely was his friendship with musician Tom Relleen, who the album is dedicated to. Before Tom’s death from cancer in August, Tom was able to provide invaluable input and steer the record into the bright, beguiling and coherent long player it is today.
Richard believes that documenting important moments and trying to preserve them is woven into the fabric of being human. Whilst field recording is still a niche practice, Frond believes that capturing the sounds of a place is as essential as taking a picture. The church bells in Realisation are an instantly recognisable signal of celebration and the passage of time. The silky hisses used throughout Every Particle are the slowed down sounds of a campfire recorded very close up (a cheap mic was sacrificed for this purpose) and are there to represent sensuality, intimacy and emotional chemistry. Later on in the record we encounter a chorus of insects in the opening of Ascending. They were recorded in a dark sky area where there was a clear view towards the galactic centre. The music attempts to capture the sensation that we’re being slowly pulled towards it — enveloped by it.
Using bold scales, bespoke string instruments and crystal clear arrangements, the album is a confident sequel to the darker, abstract solipsism of 2014’s ‘The Second Continent’. This earlier Frond is not completely unrecognisable here; there’s still enough of the artist’s unique sound design, intense atmospheres and mournful chord progressions for this release to cement his sound within the ambient genre.
Frond was in no hurry to complete this project, which was a two year labour of love. He gave himself the space he needed to select his sound palette, process his recordings and carefully arrange each piece. Like the listening experience itself, it was worth taking time over.
All music, field recordings and production by Richard Bultitude
Artwork by Holger Lippmann
Design by Harco Rutgers
For Tom, a kindred spirit