Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and everyone's idea of an all-you-can-eat buffet was to hunt down the saber-tooth tiger and graze on long-grass, when the day ended, we trudged home, hung up our goatskins and rude weapons, settled into the darkest recesses of the communal cave, and tossed on the cosmic sounds of early Kraftwerk, Michael Hoenig, Cluster, and various fellow Neanderthals so that our lives in the wayback—when the dreaded Nixonites, the odd LBJ tribe, and the yammering Agnewvians from over the mountains were as numerous as locusts—were not too unbearable. Time passed, Eno descended from the heavens like an angel of mercy, and things changed rapidly. I'm not so sure the mode has advanced all that much since, just as I'm quite reconciled that it needn't, but I'm positive it hasn't been fully explored either…and that's where Northern Valentine comes in.
Between then and now, Mike Garrison, Steve Roach, Aphex Twin, Pink Floyd, and others picked up the slack as the Soleilmoon, Instinct Ambient, Waveform Corporation, and especially Hypnos labels sidled in on lightning bolts and dreamrails. Eventually, a decent disparate community of progressive space musics existed, and we got Sigur Ros, Radiohead, and various ensembles therefrom. With the field wide open but not nearly so populated as it should be, Northern Valentine, a quartet (guitars, guitars, keyboards, keyboards & violins) of chill-out drone ambientalists, has thrown its hand—or rather it's eight hands—into the arena and delivered a septet of conterminous sounds that are not so much a fin de Siécle (end of an era—or the turning point from one to another) as what occurs after the end of everything terrene. Neither Ragnarok nor oblivion, it's instead a National Geographic of soundscapes from an indeterminate sometime.
NV emits slow langurous waves of overlapping tones and progressions that narcotize, invoking a deep sense of catharsis, of subtle release of worldly tensions. At times drear and foggy, then suffused and radiant, sensefields turn within themselves and coruscate or deliquesce. This is meditational in the best notion—not some sappy idiot breathing into a shakuhachi or plinking a piano but a map of inner worlds and the vastnesses of the inky gulf, an ether to drift off into. If you fall asleep while listening, you're going to have some interesting dreams…but you'll also miss subtle happenstances fading in and out of each composition. There's never enough of this mode of music, and one of the cool elements is that you can put it on endless play and erect alien environments in your own home………or head.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles