Freeze-Tag (real name Marcus Alan Ward) is a Cleveland based multi-instrumentalist making dance-based ambient R&B. Described as a “prisma-chromatic” sound on his website, Ward is inspired by “retrograde and futuristic tones, as well as the unification of visual art and music”. He has great admiration for artists like Matisse, Rothko, Warhol, Van Gogh, Magritte, Basquiat, and Rousseau while influenced musically by a large range of prog rock, electronic, soul, hip-hop, and avant-garde music. Released in April of 2013, the Eskimo EP is a combination of light electronics with sensual R&B flavors relative to the chillwave gene-pool.
Stream: Freeze-Tag – Twice (Field Day Recordings)
Ward has developed greatly from his previous EP, WLDFWR_HNY, which featured similarly nice dance grooves but was amateurish in its execution. Eskimo is polished and waxed for the listener’s enjoyment. He overlaps some of the synths from his debut over to this EP much like he does with the album artwork; illustrating themes of unification in Freeze-Tag’s music between EPs poignantly.
Stream: Freeze-Tag – Eskimo (Field Day Recordings)
While Eskimo may have been released in the budding heat of spring, the EP (and its corresponding title) fits more appropriately into the cold atmosphere of winter. Loneliness spreads across six beautiful tracks that appreciate basic space between layers of synths and vocals; taking notes from Toro y Moi’s 2010 debut Causers of This. Similar to Causers, Freeze-Tag hangs his hat on the bedroom-pop aesthetic that’s worked so well for artists past. When listening to the EP, the songs play as if you’re there in the room with him as he croons songs of love.
Stream: Freeze-Tag – Hours (Ours) (Field Day Recordings)
With that in mind, much of the EP sounds like it could have been recorded in an igloo due to the cold, swirling nature of the songs and the cave-like effect owed to the heavy reverb on Ward’s vocals, as heard on EP opener “Twice”– which covers Little Dragon tenderly. The song “Eskimo” holds his bedroom-groove firmly in place as the word “eskimo” is the only lyric sang across its twinkling, spacey production. There’s so much else going on around the vocals that there’s no need for much else to be said. On “Dog Days”, Ward reflects further on relationships as he sings “All mine, you say you’re all mine?” over a bright, thumping beat. The beauty in the lyrics of the Eskimo EP are in their simplicity. EP highlight “Hours (Ours)” exhibits Freeze-Tag’s aesthetic at its core as he softly sings “Here in my room/I let you go” over a dancey tune wrought with melancholy.
Freeze-Tag’s minimal and reserved approach lets the atmosphere do the talking. The R&B vocals coated in reverb bounce off the dotty synths that make up much of the EP and reveal a cohesive project from a young artist to keep an eye on. While Eskimo may have been released when the heat was beginning to return, there’s no better EP to accompany cold walks on snowy sidewalks than these six songs.
Download Freeze-Tag’s Eskimo EP on Bandcamp now.