There is a beautiful honesty and a subtle sophistication about Northcape’s music that is refreshing and engaging. From the opening bars of the opening track, “Doesn’t Feel Like a Long Way,” a gentle and slowly-building suspense develops as beautifully-tailored synths lift you up and carry you off. A crisp snare kicks in, and you are transported. This is music deftly and cleverly executed with a clear understanding of the emotional power of light and shade, of melody and rhythmic nuances.
And so it continues on, track after track, and this is an album where each and every track is a gem. Northcape is musical conjurer — or perhaps a better description would be a musical ticket office, because there is definitely a sense of distance covered, of travels embarked upon. Clear melodic lines are a key feature of this music, some catchy, some beautifully haunting. It is with these strands, interwoven with intelligent and perceptive beats, with which Northcape creates his magic carpet on which you are carried aloft to distant lands.
A definite sense of yearning and separation characterizes much of this album. This is especially the case in the superb “Approaching The Trig Point,” a track which has a melodic synth line like rain drops streaking down a window pane. However, just as you are lulled by the melancholic sound into wistful reverie, a smudged and dirtied synth sets up a counterpoint. Its scale and depth conjures up sense of remoteness that can only intensify the emotive qualities of the piece.
Northcape has created his own musical world, with carefully set and delineated rules. There is a discipline to what he does, whether it be in the sounds he chooses to sculpt or the moments he choses to bring the levels right down to enhance the subtle dramatic quality of what he is trying to achieve. Inside this framework he is ever inventive, using his musical discipline as a foil against which his considerable imagination can play.
This is an album of considerable beauty, an album that enchants and invites the listener to visit spaces of memory and imagination. Northcape has indeed succeeded in producing one of those albums that comes along every once-in-a-while — one which both defines a genre and sets the standard for others to follow. Melodic electronica has a new hero.