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North Atlantic Oscillation – Grappling Hooks 2cd Edition

July 1, 2011 by  

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North Atlantic Oscillation – Grappling Hooks 2cd Edition

NAME: North Atlantic Oscillation
ALBUM: Grappling Hooks 2cd Edition
DATE: 4July2011

LABEL: Kscope


FIVE WORD REVIEW: Senses-feeding, dreamy melodic soundscape

LOCATION: Glasgow, Scotland

LINE UP: Sam Healy (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, synths, sax, percussion), Ben Martin (drums, percussion, programming)


WHAT’S THE STORY?: When Grappling Hooks was released in 2010 by Scottish based trio North Atlantic Oscillation, there was a large wave of warmth and critical acclaim given and deservedly so as the album was a delightful and impressive crowning of musical creativity and expression. As the band prepares to start recording their second album, Grappling Hooks has been released as a special 2 CD Edition. Accompanying the album comes a second cd containing remixes of tracks from the main album, tracks from a BBC 6 music session, and also a cover track from their Call Signs EP.

North Atlantic Oscillation consists of Sam Healy (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, synths, sax, percussion), Ben Martin (drums, percussion, programming) and Bill Walsh (bass, synth bass, vocals), though it is Martin and Healy only on Grappling Hooks. Musically, they create a dreamy soundscape that takes structures and redesigns them, and takes varied sounds and ideas to blend them into a smooth blue sky of emotive clouds and soothing warmth. The combination of live instruments, scuzzy lively guitars, and electronic beats is a well of inventiveness that simply does not fail to inspire and energise on every track.

On Grappling Hooks, though every track is a gem certain songs seemed to be more definite favourites with people and they are also the songs that make up most of the second cd, with, as an example, the brilliant ‘Cell Count’ receiving two remixes. The original version floats along with an infectious synth pop sound which recalls 80’s band Dalek I Love You from the pop hooks, dreamy vocals and clicky rhythm. The Funkspiel remix smoothes it all out but still retains that air of unease and isolation, whereas the Rick Trepka mix brings shadows with menacing guitars to converse with the melodic swells of the song. Both are extremely enjoyable but the original still stands tall.

The other remixes are of ’77 Hours’ and ‘Alexander Platz’. The first’s Engineer’s Mix brings a cleaner and more atmospheric sound that is on a par with the Grappling Hooks cut, whilst the World’s Engineer mix of the latter in many ways reinvents the track and, credit where it is due, is possibly an improvement on the first version.

The tracks on the additional cd that really warrant investigation are the Live Session recordings for BBC 6 and the immense and simply stunning cover of ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’. This is a track we all know in one way or another, having been released by the likes of The Flamingos, Frank Sinatra, and Temptations to name three, but whether any have found that depth of emotion and beauty that North Atlantic Oscillation have is debateable. The BBC recorded tracks are ‘Hollywood Has Ended’ and ‘Drawing Maps From Memory’ showing that recorded or live the band is imperious with their sound.

Grappling Hooks is an amazing journey of sound and vision that fills every sense with joy, breathing creativity from its every pore. Songs like ‘Star Chamber’ and ‘Audioplastic’ added to the aforementioned, are plateaus of wonder and experimentation and for anyone not experiencing the aural pleasure of North Atlantic Oscillation this re-release is the perfect entry point. Whether there is enough to entice people who already have the album to treat themselves again is maybe being hopeful, but certainly the additional tracks deserve investigation just as much as Grappling Hooks itself.

SOUNDS LIKE: Dalek I Love You, ELO, Friska Viljor, Sigur Ros

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: ingenuity with melodies, sounds and emotions feeds your senses.


Submitted By Pete RingMaster



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