The Album

SEED is the third album from Freedom To Glide and completes their anti-war trilogy. With SEED Freedom To Glide have brought together every aspect of their unique sound to produce this sharply focused and deeply personal concept album based around one man’s experience of 1918 – the final year of World War 1.

On leave from the war at the beginning of 1918, a soldier, struggling to come to terms with the fact that the war seems to have no end in sight starts to conclude that his death is inevitable. Fearing this may be the last time he sees them he tells his family to prepare for the worst. In the months that follow he realises how much the war has cost him, his family, his friends, indeed all humanity. As his thoughts turn outward to the wider world he encounters an ‘enemy’ doctor carrying a fellow soldier back to safety. The two talk and find a mutual respect for one another as the futility of war stares them square in the face. With the end of the war now in sight they find a ray of light in the black of the war, a seed of hope that maybe peace is within reach?
Musically, Freedom To Glide take you on a cinematic journey through their now familiar sonic landscape of layered synths, evocative acoustic guitar, atmospheric piano and soaring guitar solos.

seed

Running time: 56 minutes, 13 tracks

Available in Deluxe Digipak with 20 page booklet, Ecopak with 8 page booklet and download.

Seed running order:

  1. Seed
  2. Holding On
  3. No Turning Back
  4. Undertones Of War
  5. The Right Within The Wrong
  6. The Space Between The Lines
  7. The Only Way
  8. Escape To Survive
  9. One Day
  10. When That Day Comes
  11. Broken Road
  12. Dear May
  13. Seed Of Hope

Article by

Rob Fisher

I have spent the majority of my working life in higher education. For the best part of 35 years I have grappled – and have been a guiding companion in helping others to grapple – with the ways in which it may be possible to make sense of the bewildering diversity of artistic cruelty human beings seem capable of effortlessly inflicting on each other.

One approach is to consider the sheer scale of the numbers involved. Over the course of the last century alone, well over one hundred million people died as a direct of violence. WWI – circa 9 million (military), 7 million (civilian); WWII – circa 48 million; Stalin’s programme of collectivisation – circa 14 million; the Korean War – circa 5 million; the killing fields of Cambodia – circa 3 million. And on. And on. And relentlessly on, even in our new century. Nor do these figures include individual and social acts of brutality and savagery.

Unfortunately the shocking truth these numbers reveal highlights the key weakness of taking this approach. The numbers quickly become incomprehensible. Overwhelming. Numbing. Too much to take in. There is just no way of getting a meaningful handle on the sheer depths of the agony and anguish the numbers represent; they defy explanation and too easily the suffering of those who went through it becomes distant and depersonalised.

The other approach is precisely that taken by this truly outstanding third studio album Seed from Freedom to Glide and marks the concluding chapter of a trilogy which started with Rain in 2013 and continued with 2016’s Fall. Andy Nixon and Pete Riley have created a musical experience which is simply breathtaking in the way it opens the doors to remarkable levels of penetrating insight, which in turn pave the way for genuinely gut-wrenching moments of emotional empathy.

Never before have I reached for a pause button so frequently as when listening to this album. There is a gentle but disturbing sensitivity which underlies the lyrical ingenuity of this release that hits home again and again with heart-breaking poignancy and force. If you want to talk about war, if you want to come one step closer to understanding the unspeakable, unbearable horror of what people went through on the battlefields, if you want to remember them, then this is precisely how you do it.

A snippet of a song jumps out and catches your ear: the imagery, the allusions, the delicate beauty of the song’s story physically jolts you to a halt. As the resonances begin to ripple out from the point of impact, you find yourself sitting there on the verge of tears as the full force of the emotional realisation well and truly sinks in of the awful, senseless state of resignation and despair these soldiers – these sons, brothers, husbands, lovers, friends – felt as the sun rises and falls on yet another sodden, deafening day of fighting in a foreign land.

To pick out individual tracks would be a horrible injustice to the tight and organic conceptual as well as musical vision that flawlessly threads its way from opening chapter to aching conclusion. Yet I would point your attention to four particular episodes which mesmerise with a clarity and a focused purity the immense foresight and imagination which underpins this release.

The Right Within The Wrong is steeped in the most tragic sense of unravelling self-certainty, the unfettered questioning of everything you hold dear as you sink into the morass of moral ambiguity from the everyday sights and sounds all around you. The plaintive plea and desperate holding on to certainty repeatedly asserts: “I’m not broken”, but is tested in the heat of battle “with every ounce of steel / That finds a fate to seal / Another crack appears”.

The enthralling and elegant acoustic of The Only Way? tells the story of an ‘enemy’ doctor crossing the lines to bring an ‘enemy’ soldier back to his comrades. The unabashed humanity is “A ray of light passing / Through the black of war” and forces the recognition of what we have in common: “You, like me, will bleed when you are torn and it’s / Clear that we would both prefer to talk than kill so / Much more to lose than they could ever hope to gain / It’s not the only way.”

Infrequent moments of humanity feed fleeting seeds of hope. Yet even here, the lament of Broken Road is loud and clear: “Broken road carry me home / To the life could have made / On the path we should’ve laid / Broken Road lead me away / From where my brothers lie / Where truth and reason died.”

Dear May is staggering in the bewitching simplicity of the final message it conveys from “this distant broken land”. “You’ll hold our memory close as we fade from view / This war must never claim me as it’s hero / I belong to you.”

Seed is magnificent. It is devastating in the range of its emotional sweep, humbling in the profundity of the insights it enables and majestic in the way it flawlessly presents a holistic musical experience. This is, without doubt, a contender for album of the decade and should be mandatory listening for anyone who is grappling to understand what it is human beings are capable of doing to each other. ~ ROB FISHER

Seed album press pack

From Steve Chilton of

Kafkadiva

I remember when Freedom To Glide first started happening. At the time both Pete and Andy were in the same Pink Floyd tribute band as me. I, and the rest of our band, would commonly see those two guys stay behind after a ‘Dark Side Of The Wall’ rehearsal discussing their latest collaborations. From small acorns and all that.

They are my friends and that is something I’m naturally proud of but it plays no part in my opinion of the music they produce. That simply transcends our obvious connection. In fact, I’m rather fortunate that they are my friends because not only are they two genuinely lovely fellas, I may not otherwise have known about their music! From the very first EP release, then the exciting debut album RAIN, the subsequent EPs and xmas releases, and through to the amazing sophomore album ‘FALL’, Freedom To Glide have continually produced music of an amazingly high standard. I listen as a musician myself, it’s impossible not to, but most of all, I listen as a fan of quality music. What I always love about their releases is that everyone is carefully thought out, the narrative is never less than ‘bang on the money’ and without fail, makes you think and draws you in. Importantly, it’s always accompanied by a musical creativity that never fails to astound me. The music is always arranged, performed and recorded with such quality and attention to detail, it’s hard to think these guys aren’t full-time professionals. Given so much of the output that we get on a daily basis from mainstream media outlets it’s a massive bug bear to me that these guys are not household names and renowned artists in their own right. That’s where I am with Freedom To Glide. Love their music. End of. So, given that starting point it’s always exciting to encounter a new release… but that is always tempered by the wariness of wondering… will this next one be up to the usual standard?

So, onto SEED. The culmination of their three album trilogy dealing with the human impact of war, and most especially the brutal, and often pointless carnage that was World War One. This album is a triumph in many ways, and also a conclusion to this particular part of their story. What they do beyond this point remains to be seen. Maybe live performances, maybe a new album with a different subject matter. Who knows? The point is that Seed is here right now… and demands attention.

The most apparent thing that strikes you is that this album involves a narrowing down of the narrative. The first two albums dealt with many aspects of war and it’s impact on us as human beings. This album instead focuses on just one human being. An interesting path to take, and also to be honest, a surprising one, as I was expecting them to broaden the story. However, in doing this the emotion is even more close to home as you soon realise the personal impact on one man. One of millions. And also to his family back home. The opening track ‘Seed’ prepares you for what’s to follow. ‘Holding On’ is an immediate highlight for me. Classic Freedom To Glide containing a ‘to die for’ hook coupled with amazing lyrics finding the soldier at odds with being home on leave and the conflict in his own mind that causes. ‘No Turning Back’ continues this theme, preparing his own son for the possibility he may not return. ‘Undertones Of War’ kicks in with a sublime bass grove that wonderfully underpins this track. The “pouring rain” is no weather forecast. Every drop has a name. ‘The Right Within The Wrong’ is a tough listen in so much as it’s harsh and pleading, perfectly describing the soldier’s inner turmoil. Powerful both lyrically and musically, particular the ascending chord sequences towards the end.

A breather now as the atmospheric keyboard signature of ‘The Space Between The Lines’ changes the mood. The guitar solo in the middle is sparse and melodic, but absolutely perfect. Then you get the ‘hit you full in the face’ moment… an unbelievable change in the dynamic leaves you on the floor. Just when you think “wow, that’s awesome”… it grows more awesome. The lead guitar coupled with a truly powerful performance and arrangement of backing vocals (supplied by the talented Louise Wilson) create a soundscape that defies the earlier part of the song. Then the resolve. A truly amazing piece of work.

The previous two albums featured a beautiful acoustic guitar based track. Andy does us proud again with ‘The Only Way’. The story of the German doctor (previously explored on the first album) is the perfect way to describe how basic humanity can cross the divide of war. Moving in the extreme. ‘Escape To Survive’ is a song of hope and again proves how good Freedom To Glide are at coming up with a memorable melody on the chorus. I confess I find myself singing along with this one! A special mention too for the beautiful guitar work that closes the track. Immediately you’re transported into another mindset with the opening of ‘One Day’ with it’s haunting background and piano from Pete. The optimism of the lyrics are all the more powerful for their brevity. This is a perfect example of what makes a ‘Freedom To Glide’ album what they are. ‘When That Day Comes’ is not afraid to make its point and whilst the hope of an end is in sight, it questions and points the finger at the perpetrators of the horror.

‘Broken Road’ is another stand-out track… and quite how you can have such a thing on an album like this is a separate question! The road in question is the one taken as the guns fall silent but one loaded with memories that will haunt his life forever. The chorus again is wonderfully catchy, melodic and memorable. Plus, there’s yet another reference to the ‘rain’ for those of us familiar with the first album. Love that.

‘Dear May’… is explained in that first line. “This is the note I’d hoped you’d never read”. It’s heartbreaking. No words do this justice. Simply listen. Finally the album closes with the appropriately titled ‘Seed Of Hope’. Vocals provided again by Louise this track provides the final killer blow. Gazing out at a ‘stone for every name’ they are ‘the endless fallen rain’. The circle has been completed.

Every album by Freedom To Glide has told a progressive story. ‘Seed’ is that journey completed but it’s also full of individual moments of brilliance that make the album able to comfortably stand alone. This is no ‘part 3’. This is a must-listen album its own right. ~ STEVE CHILTON

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