ARTIST: Northern Valentine
ALBUM: The Distance Brings Us Closer
LABEL: Silber Records
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
Ambient rock group Northern Valentine draws similar inspiration as many of the emerging acts in the "glacial ambient" scene, most specifically Netherworld, but besides using a more guitar-oriented sound, they differ with their contemporaries by taking a more emotionally ambiguous approach to their subject matter. Where recent albums by the likes of Rapoon and Netherworld on the Glacial Movements label focus primarily on arctic imagery as a metaphor for peace, tranquility and timelessness, taking comfort in the emptiness and creating a similar sense of quiet vastness in their music, Northern Valentine's work is much more emotionally immediate; the emptiness is tranquil, but it's also lonely, and that comes through especially on this album's opening track, "Born Yesterday," with its rich, achingly cold guitar textures conjuring up scenes of icy windswept plateaus, stunning vistas that wouldn't seem nearly so stark if you had someone there to share them with you. "Dies Solis" is darker still, the emptiness of the landscape lending itself toward brooding and internal tension, a hint of nervousness and self-criticism buzzing beneath the mournful guitar drones. "Dimanche" is more ambient in the classical sense in that it soothes tension rather than exacerbating it, the soft echoing percussive sounds drifting off into the fuzzy tidal drones, and "Escaping Light," despite its title's evocation of the last lonely sunset before a long arctic winter, is actually a little playful, with pleasantly atonal pianos emerging occasionally from the sleepy guitar textures. "Already Gone" continues this trend, its tones warmer than any of its predecessors, the outer calm of the music itself seemingly indicating the inner calm that comes with accepting the loneliness of one's present situation. Likely to appeal to fans of both ambient acts like Bass Communion, Lull, and Oophoi and such instrumental rock acts as Stars of the Lid, Windy and Carl, and Third Eye Foundation, this album is cold but powerful, its subtle snowy soundscapes a portal to surprisingly rich emotional territory.
Visit Northern Valentine online at www.northernvalentine.com.
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