Saturday, April 13, 2013

Loving ... “Exploration and Ascent” by Northcape

When I write reviews of music, I try not to compare the artist in question with another, potentially more establish, artist. It's something I don't really appreciate in the writing of others. I think musicians should always seek to be themselves and, as such, reviewers should view them as such.

I am, however, going to break this rule when I try to put my thoughts together on Northcape’s “Exploration and Ascent” ... I have to otherwise it would stand like an elephant in the room.

This album made me think of the mighty Boards Of Canada and their seminal classic “Music Has The Right To Children” ... the warmth of the synths ... the skittering beats ... it was almost an instant connection and, if I am truly honest, I cannot think of a greater compliment.

I'm not saying Northcape has ripped off BOC ... far from it ... but I can see their touch on his music ... and it is most welcome. He has taken most of what is great about BOC (the warm synths and skittering beats) and left all that annoyed me about them (their penchant for wonkiness) ... added his soulful touch ... and created something uniquely new.

Northcape’s form of beat-driven electronic soundscapes are exceptionally good. The synths he uses are warm, compelling and instantly gratifying. I knew he was on to a winner within the first minute of the first track.

Northcape’s emphasis on melody is also compelling. These tracks engage the listener and reward their attentiveness. They immerse the listener in a warm embrace ... the kind that may be familiar but is still a sensual delight ... one that is cherished and desired.

Take “The First Crossing Of The Watershed” as an example ... the melody expressed on various synths in combination with the exemplary downtempo percussion is first class and truly gorgeous.

Variety is expressed on this album through the expert choice of the synths used for both the backing and the melody ... as well as the visionary use of percussion and tempo. The addition of field recordings on “High Mountain Record” and “Carbon” is a further delight.

I could wax lyrical about each track but on this occasion I won't. I'd much rather you experience this release for yourself and grow to love it as much as I do.

Yes, I do love this album and look forward to long, lazy Sunday afternoons ... out in my back garden or in a park ... with this album providing the soundtrack to the moment. It has that kind of vibe about it ... the deservedly relaxed feel you get when you kick back after a hard day’s work.

I cannot fault this release and whilst it does sound familiar, it is a wonderful familiar ... like being at home, meeting an old friend or wearing that extra special tee-shirt.

If you have a thing for warm synths and imaginative percussion then please do yourself a favour an check this album out. I have embedded a player below to let you hear it. If it is your thing and I hope it is then please support truly independent talent like Northcape.


I spelt Ascent wrong. I made an ass of myself by replacing the "C" with a second "S". Ooops.

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