Haunting sketches from a one-of-a-kind artist.
Frozen, released on her Bandcamp in the middle of the night (like she used to do with her early records), is Klein's most tantalizing record, full of aimless guitar strums, extended drones and haunting vocal passages. The songs don't coalesce so much as hang in the air, like a spectral presence in the room.
Klein's remarkable 2019 album Lifetime dealt with her religious upbringing, featuring intimate recordings of family members along with wrenching, chopped-up vocal performances. Frozen feels less private but somehow more intimate, a blank slate after the exorcism of Lifetime. There are few words or voices on the album, and the mood is calm and patient, with a lazy-day contentment.
The LP consists mainly of strummed guitar and Klein's usual piano, which sound like they're being beamed in from a world away, crackly and rough. It's hard to make out what's happening on the stunning 15-minute "summon," whose repetitive haze makes you sit and wait, wondering if anything new will come. These sounds are often lo-fi, but never feel cheap or tossed-off. Like all of Klein's music, there's a purpose to everything, and the fuzzy or indistinct sounds become captivating for what they leave out, or don't say.
"another dust track" is a fried ballad that benefits from this approach: it wouldn't be half as poignant if it were crystal clear. Instead, it sounds like acoustic industrial music, if such a thing was possible. There are plenty of bursts of noise on Frozen, but the most arresting moment is when it goes near-silent for over eight minutes on "mark 19 april track." Eventually, sound resurfaces with distant, garbled vocals, like the album fell asleep and woke up groggy.
These are the parts that feel intimate: the passages that make you turn the volume way up because you need to hear more. It's why the opening track's close-mic'd collage of rumbling sounds feels so dear and personal, because it sounds like you're in the room with her. Klein doesn't need lyrics or conventional songwriting to get her feelings across, because she understands the power of these non-musical sounds and the associations they bring up, the feelings they could trigger. In her hands, every kind of sound can become music in itself.
The way Klein pours those feelings into this structureless, exploratory music is what makes her the unlikely star she is. She's often described as a storyteller, and in interviews, she's spoken about wanting to win a Grammy or an Oscar, as well as her wish to one day work in pop music. These ideas begin to make sense when you get deep into Frozen, which finds soul-baring emotion in the most unexpected of sounds.