Gideon Frankel embarks on a mystical journey throughout his expertly composed solo project, ‘The Dryad’.
An enigmatic creation catalysed by Gideon Frankel, Ifihadahifi sees the prolific composer, songwriter and producer deviate from his multi-award-winning background in commercial soundtracks, offering a fresh creative outlet for his adept musicianship and resplendent imagination. As his first solo project, ‘The Dryad’ captures every ounce of his unique aptitude, providing a concise tracklist which exudes a wide range of emotions.
Combining the rustic qualities of vintage electric pianos with the warm, vibrant bass riffs which crop up throughout the record, ‘The Dryad’ often inherits a reflective tone, with its phantasmagorical atmosphere present right from the opening track, ‘Broken Dreams’. Supplemented by the delicate harmonies of American flutist, Jamichael Frazier, the ethereality transcends the listener into dimensions unachievable through neither lyrics nor vocals. A feature throughout the album, Frazier’s skilful and oneiric presence adds a glossy touch to Frankel’s rich instrumentation, producing moments of excellence such as the playful harmonies which radiate throughout the upbeat ‘Chocolate Box’, helping effectuate what is perhaps unironically the most alluring and irresistible track on the record.
The captivating manner through which Frankel dictates the atmosphere of his tracks ensures ‘The Dryad’ remains an enchanting listen throughout its duration. While certainly a concise body of work, nuances within the production allow certain tracks to take unexpected turns. This is the case on the aptly titled, ‘Burning Blues’, where Frazier’s flute inflections at times almost mimic the cries of a slide guitar. Featured alongside the prominent bass and swaggering touch of the vibraphone, this track succeeds in capturing the duality of exuberance and melancholia which lies at the core of any great blues song. A track which emanates the same energy is ‘Mellow Jive’, where the upbeat swing melodies and scintillating percussion capture the vibrant briskness of the notorious African-American dance. This sense of vitality can also be heard on the album’s title track, where the infectious Latin percussion and mysterious electric keys capture the beauty of a soul residing beneath the hollow heart of an enchanted oak tree.
Having stated how the “flute has a spiritual and mystical quality (that) channels mythological energies”, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Frankel’s majestic composition lays the foundation for a folkloric soundtrack. Alongside the title track, ‘The Phoenician’ offers another example of this allegorical representation, where the frenetic flute harmonies and lively arpeggios portray the bustling spirit of the ancient civilisation which resided along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. ‘Spirit Dance’ takes a further dive into ethereality, with its scratchy percussion and glistening vibraphone capturing the jaunty mystique which haunts the track.
Incorporating elements of Jazz, Folk, and Latin music into his classical repertoire, Frankel’s ability to embrace his creative spirit culminates in an endearing body of work, whose charming mysticism is longing to be explored by the listener. Crisp in production, and beautifully arranged, ‘The Dryad’ ensures Frankel’s first solo project is an exceptionally memorable experience, which holds all the traits of an instant classic.
Favourite Tracks: Broken Dreams, The Dryad, Chocolate Box, Spirit Dance