Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Captured From Static - Northcape

Captured From Static

Sun Sea Sky Records.

SCQ Rating: 75%

Finding soul amid machinery has been the greatest challenge at the root of electronica, its presence - however lucid or impossible - defining the genre’s successes and failures. Each masterwork in its field is heralded for possessing that humane telltale, imbedding each click and tone with otherworldly personality, and yet pinpointing those gears at work is, at best, a matter of opinion. Captured From Static, the latest release by Northcape (Alastair Brown), falls into that generous gray area, a work that finds human fingerprints beneath the staunchly electronic sound.

Operating on crisp drum-machines and a pristine palette of keys, Captured From Static calls to mind some key victories for home-listening electronica this past decade. Variety is scattered yet buried in frozen tones; ‘Approaching the Trig Point’, for example, evokes the icy melodies of early Morr Music before ‘Grove Park’ steps into a micro-house inspired momentum. Those references aren’t difficult to detect, but they are initially overshadowed by Northcape’s frosty touch that unites Captured From Static in a tonal wash. Gauzy like the most detail-oriented shoegaze guitarist, Northcape's stimulating atmospheres call to mind an IDM-loving, albeit less morose, The Sight Below.

That Captured From Static welcomes comparisons to turn-of-the-century era electronic movements doesn’t render it dated, as these compositions sound splendidly futurist. Instead, Northcape’s serious focus on songcraft gives a conservative impression, one that on initial spins flirts with appearing faceless, yet as its songs envelop listeners with efficient, ego-free techniques, so too does Captured From Static’s personality bloom from the ice. The couplet of ‘Into Sunlight’ and ‘First Day In a New Town’ best represent Brown’s versatility, the former’s keys hanging like fog over a beatless abyss, the latter anchored by head-nod worthy percussion. With Northcape, you’re never quite sure whether his work is transmitting through expressive moods or technical austerity, but there’s no questioning the fingerprint visible upon each note.

Doesn't feel like a long way by northcape

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