Reviews of “Glasshouse”

In all it seems Glasshouse is just that, a place where you’ll need to move about carefully to let the sound waves travel unfettered and undisturbed. Leaving a ray of light to shine in and disperse in all manner of color, this audio architect reveals a calmed emotive sound-escape that is serene, polished and quite nostalgic.
Igloo Magazine

an abstract yet unfussy sound form that’s warm, evocative, and melodic and whose downtempo ambient-electronic presentation conveys feelings of melancholy and optimism in equal measure.
Textura

Something about Northcapes’s new EP attracted me to it before hearing it and sometimes you just know that everything is about to just fit into place. I saw the album cover and title for the new EP some months back and was astonished by the sheer beauty of it…The cross over of ambience and IDM that he brings under Northcape is surprisingly original and individual… I have had the privilege to listen to some great music so far this year, and Glasshouse is up there with some of the best
Echoes and Dust (Mark Wardale)

From the first bell like tones of “Capillary Action”, the opening track here, this EP just knocked me over and wowed me. Here we have thoughtful, intelligent, sophisticated electronic music. You could call it ambient except its also full of exquisite (and complimentary) beats. This EP, I think, is a work of art…Its that nostalgic vibe, memories of happy, hot summers long ago when there wasn’t a thing in the world to worry about. “Glasshouse” takes you to that place…Overall this EP is a MUST LISTEN. You need it in your life. If you like synths, ambient music, good songs, Boards of Canada or related things I don’t think you can fail to be impressed by it. Northcape is revealed as a composer with the ability to communicate feeling and create moods. It will certainly lead me to put him in my “artists to watch” list and seek out more of his catalogue. 11/10.”
Geeky Disco

“Glasshouse” by Northcape is a remarkable EP, one where Alastair Brown comes into his own as an electronic musician of note. Whilst his previous output may have brought comparison to the earlier work of Boards of Canada, “Glasshouse” stands alone as a uniquely Northcape body-of-work. It is a robust offering for anyone with a love of warm, unhurried, melodic and memorable electronica… Already a highlight of 2014″
Headphonaught

“Art” is a word variously defined, and sometimes only hesitantly. One definition that has always rung true with me is that of translation and interpretation. How does one take a concept from one medium and bring it to life in another? What do the veins in a leaf sound like? What color is a hot summer day?
Northcape’s Alastair Brown could probably tell you. Listening to Alluvial, his previous EP, is like taking a hike along a cold stream well above the tree line. Indeed his last several releases paint increasingly detailed spaces using only instrumentation and a pair of headphones. The easy solution to that challenge of art – for a musician, anyway – would be to lean heavily on electronica’s standard iconography of samples and sound effects; what easier way to place someone in a natural setting than with birdsong, flowing water, or leaves rustling? There is very little if any of this to be found here, and looking at the perfectly aligned cover artwork almost feels like cheating. In this, his most ambitious, evocative, and clearly-phrased release yet, the listener is invited to feel the energy of photosynthesis; the urgency of a seedling pushing through an immense weight of soil above; the retinal burn of bright sunlight through moving branches. Exquisite.

Brian Roelofs (reviewed on Amazon.com)

June 19th, 2014

Reviews of ‘Exploration and Ascent’

Wisely, Northcape raised his sights beyond the realm of cultural plundering so there are no Tibetan/Nepalese samples or “world music” modal influences in evidence. Instead, the tracks aspire to capture timeless characteristics of the Himalayas and high, mountainous, (strangely?) isolated places more generally…it’s clear Northcape has refined and advanced his sound in the three years since Captured From Static. The songs have a wider dynamic range, stretch out each new idea, and contain an interesting variety of instruments and effects… The album’s flow and pacing is impeccable, such that by the time the last track “Carbon” trails off into a crackle of static that evokes a dying campfire, we feel we have traveled to the high places, then been brought safely home by a skilled and compassionate guide.
Igloo Magazine (Eric Sorenson)

Exploration and Ascent is Northcape’s 4th album and second from the Illinois based Sun Sea Sky imprint. While his last outing Captured From Static had echoes of Toytronic recordings stalwart Gimmik as well as some undercurrents of mid era New Order this new album which apparently is inspired by Himalayan exploration has an even more laid back feel than its predecesor. Alastair Brown the man behind Northcape seems to have really found his niche with this one as the album features carefully crafted melodies that can, and do, conjure up visions of distant snowy peaks, crisp blue skies, and melting glaciers where clouds seem to be just within grasp.
n5MD

This album made me think of the mighty Boards Of Canada and their seminal classic “Music Has The Right To Children” … the warmth of the synths … the skittering beats … it was almost an instant connection and, if I am truly honest, I cannot think of a greater compliment… Yes, I do love this album and look forward to long, lazy Sunday afternoons … out in my back garden or in a park … with this album providing the soundtrack to the moment. It has that kind of vibe about it … the deservedly relaxed feel you get when you kick back after a hard day’s work.
Headphonaught

“If you’re into experimental music with a hint of post-rock and a large influence of ambient music then you’re looking at the right place! … Exploration and Ascent is pure machine soul, reminiscent of forgotten landscapes, timeless and spaceless…Many of you that love electronic and ambient music will enjoy Exploration and Ascent for its escapism; it’s not important where you are…”
Echoes And Dust (Daniela Patrizi)

“Northcape (aka Alastair Brown) returns with a smooth, easygoing blend of downtempo keys and glitch beats on the very listenable Exploration and Ascent. Although there are eleven tracks, it’s not long before Brown’s style melts into a good, uninterrupted flow and it simply feels like one continuous and lovely journey… Headphones are highly recommended to take in Brown’s excellent layering and his use of small sounds as perfect accents. This is a disc that deserves all the repeat play it will get.”
Hypnagogue

“There is a North Cape somewhere in Norway. Herring seas and ‘Mackerel Sky’ no doubt. It is a place to view the midnight sun. I imagine Exploration And Ascent would make the perfect accompaniment. Outdoor sporty types, if you like IDM, and downtempo music get Northcape. Wear Northcape. Fly.
[sic] Magazine

May 3rd, 2013

Reviews of ‘Alluvial EP’

Arghh, it is simply filled in with beauty. Indeed, it is highly intricate by its concept and ouput. It starts out as a buffer zone between soothing electronic pop and IDM-esque shadows, which soon will be evolving into another zone, getting running on dream-alike soundscapes and electronic-drenched shoegaze music similar to Bing Satellites, Northern Picture Library or M83 having its run on restraint mode. The EP consisting of 4 tracks and issued on the Latvian label Elpa can be considered a classical one. First of all, it is recommended for all those old indie guys and gals having acquired their favorite music experiences during the 80s and 90s, and for those people as well who just used to love beautiful music on its own.
Recent Music Heroes (9.2/10)

A stunning new EP from Northcape, inspired by “geology, human prehistory and the idea of ‘deep time’- how incredibly long it has taken the planet to evolve”. Landscapes and geology are common idealism’s within ambient music, but it’s the evolving and patient progression of each of these tracks which stand out for me, reflecting that slow, evolving soundscape. Deep chords, glistening textures and simple, emotive melodies. Fans of Helios, Dextro, Horizon Fire and the slower moments of Schnauss will thoroughly enjoy this EP.
A Strangely Isolated Place

(Translated from the Italian)Not new to the environment of netlabels, Northcape , an English self-taught artist from Warwickshire returns with this intense and fluid “Alluvial EP” released by the Latvian Elpa netlabel. An EP inspired by the geology and human prehistory, from the hard-to-imagine slowness that our planet has taken to evolve. We are in ambient areas, where long arrangements of keyboards are lost in the infinite space chasing northern air currents. Northcape is able to convey the idea of ​​a pre-civilisation, floating world with overlaps between reflections and hypnotic arpeggios (Water Over Flint) in which the few elements that might lead us back to our era are chaotic rhythmic electronic beats. “Doorways Facing East” is a small example in which the environment can also contain elements of tension, a quiet awakening disturbed, a bitter realization that the way done so far has been tremendous and indelibly erased by environmental events. Well represented by the cover photo, “Alluvial EP” is flowing water, clear source of emotions and feelings that can transmit Northcape with simplicity and honesty.
Netmusic Life

June 11th, 2011

Reviews of ‘Captured From Static’

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 sense of gentle and slowly building suspense develops as beautifully tailored synth sounds 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, because this is an album where each and every track is a gem.This is an album of considerable beauty, an album that enchants and invites the listener to visit spaces of memory and imagination.
Redefine Magazine (Greg Healey)

… lulls and incapacitates with such efficacy that you stop caring that the breeze is minimal and the mercury is eternally rising. And it’s not just that every track does this either, because surely eventually you’d want a sliver of ice to offset the aural sunstroke; it’s that it does this with electronic beats and melodies that could easily transform by the time autumn leaves hit the ground later this year. Suddenly something that once sounded like an embrace of the sticky hot surroundings of summer could easily be heard as the crackling of sunset-colored vegetation rustling underneath footsteps, or a few months later, the frigid ponds slowly turning into snow-covered fields of ice. To resonate with various modes of nature through the electronic medium is not just a unique treat for the ears- Northcape proves that it can down right slow the pulse and let us take in the beauty around us, even if it’s by way of man-made melody machines. [record of the week July 27th, 2010]
nowlikephotographs

… an expensive blue cocktail of music, a little exotic in spots, perfectly mixed and served cool, infused with a flavor that makes you just have to say “Nice” every now and again. Alastair Brown builds his tunes with the deft touch of a good bartender (to keep the metaphor-ahem-flowing), adding the right elements at the right times to constantly improve a piece as it moves forward. The electronic edges here are softly rounded and sensuous. It feels at times like the sounds here have been carefully muted or sanded down for a better sense of calm. It all goes along with ease. And if the opening track, “Doesn’t Feel Like A Long Way” isn’t an immediate enough hook into Northcape’s sound for you (and it should be), then by the time you reach the elegant, eloquent and downright sexy beat-and-flow of “Grove Park,” the deal should pretty much be sealed. … There’s a lot to like on Captured… and there’s enough differentiation, track-to-track, to avoid the feeling of repetition that can plague this style.
Hypnagogue

Lush, chilled-out melodic landscapes that occupy similar territory to the likes of Ulrich Schnauss…the comparative simplicity proves to be one of Northcape’s biggest strengths, making “Captured From Static” something of a slowburning treat for fans of chilled melodic electronics.
Cyclic Defrost (Chris Downton)

Captured from stillness as much as from the noisily indeterminate screen of memory, the music flows with trip-hop beats and lounge-like melodies that become blurred in open ambient electronics.
The Silent Ballet (David Murietta)

Northcape is Brighton (UK) electronic musician Alastair Brown. Brown’s previous works as Northcape were released via the monotonik netlabel (Tim Koch, Proem, among others). His latest album “Captured From Static” is his first full length album for Sun Sea Sky. Northcape’s sound is very much rooted in the type of melodic electronica that would fit in very nicely on the Toytronic imprint. With this said there are echoes of Toytronic totem Gimmik as well as IDM forerunners Reload (Global Communications). There are also some sun-kissed Boards Of Canada style moments strewn throughout . We even get some undercurrents that suggest that Brown may fancy a bit of classic New Order from time to time especially evident in the album’s opener (‘Doesn’t Feel Like a Long Way’). “Captured From Static” is an uncomplicated and well crafted slice of retro electronica.
n5Mailorder

Electronic pop music the way it should be: this new album by UK’s Northcape is full of pretty melodies and delicate beats, and is exactly the kind of stuff that you would want to play to somebody who has no idea of electronica.
Ad Noiseam

If blissed out electronic gubbins is your thing then “Captured From Static” is a record you can’t really afford to miss. Lovely.
Burning World

“Instant Electronic Classic”

Sublime electronica. A genre-crossing piece of work that suggests we have a new star of the electronic world. Without limiting its worth to comparisons with others, this album is easily on a par with Schnauss’ debut (‘Faraway Trains…’). Yes, it’s that good.
monrobot (emusic review)

“Mesmerising”

“You cant honestly say you’re an electronica fan until you have this album in your collection. I’m listening to it right now , and it’s genius. A masterfully crafted album , full of mesmerising synth washes and the kind of melodies that shout out ” less is more “. Restrained , minimal , taking you away to that place in your mind where you havent a care in the world. Northcape can do more with 3 notes than most electronica artists could do with 50 !!
“Clear Moment ” and “Static Theme ” are masterpieces. Ridiculously addictive and entertaining.”

2nd Mouse

April 6th, 2010

Reviews of ‘Some Bright Valley’

Another treat for those who enjoyed the lush, delicate atmospheres of the last features: the Some Bright Valley ep by UK artist Northcape, put out by the monotonik netlabel. Like a pleasant summer’s walk through nature, a variety of sensations float through the air, stimulating your senses and relaxing your mind. a bed of long pad and string notes mixed with subtle environmental sounds is accented by almost organic-sounding synth leads, and held together by smooth basses and steady grooves. the short playing time is cause for repeated listening; drifting away on the sound, into a world of light filtered through leaves, gentle rain, and deep reflective pools. The warmth of summer is not yet completely gone, and Northcape helps it to hold on a little longer…
Hiddenplace music blog (05 Sept 08)

Northcape had already the right to a feature in our blog with his album “Detach”. His latest work is this one ” Some Bright Valley EP”, and it was released by the already classic netlabel, Monotonik. With a springtime title, this Ep is very fresh, a fusion of sonorities from IDM Downtempo, trip-hop and Chill Out, very relaxing yet transporting sounds, that takes us through quiet forests and green fields, whispering pleasant and addictive melodies into our ears.
Braindance music blog (with thanks to Metricks for translating from the Portuguese)

May 26th, 2008

Reviews of ‘Detach’

“This is an album of real quality with some shining moments that will become etched on the mind. From the broken beats of “Under The Fog Of A Winter Dawn” and “Unfinished Question” to the ethereal beauty of “Broken Clouds”, this album takes you on a journey, which is at times reminiscent of Boards of Canada and Ulrich Schnauss, but which carves out a sound of it’s own, that is uniquely “Northcape”. Detach yourself!”
Electronica Monthly

Music for a wistful afternoon epiphany
“Northcape was a fresh surprise, that I discovered; while pre-screening another ambient CD offering. I really don’t get the direct musical connection to the very eclectic, Boards of Canada, except in regard to the pair’s ability to create very seminal, atmospheric constructs. If I were to attempt a futile comparison of Northcape to anyone, it would probably be, the reclusive Marconi Union offering [Distance]. This is the perfect muse-music for an afternoon of thoughtful reflection, or just a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free” card for boredom between waystations. The production value is excellent with a great final result. This is an above-average effort on all counts, so please give it a try!”

Zephyr- comment left on cdbaby

“I first found Northcape on Last fm and downloaded a couple of tracks, as you do, but the mark of quality is that the same afternoon I bought the whole cd. I love this album, the tracks are like tickets to little mind journeys. ‘Under The Fog of A Winters Dawn’ is a fave but each one is a delight. Perfect for chilling out to, it’s rolling,inventive, haunting & atmospheric. Check out Northcape’s ‘Some Bright Valley’ a four track gem. A big recommendation from the world of headcage!”
Headcage- comment left on cdbaby

“Brilliant- perfect electronica. If you like Ulrich Schnauss, Jon Hopkins, Global Communication, prepare to become unreasonably happy. This is beautiful sun-filled electronica, that makes you realise how far the genre has come and how further it will go in the hands of an artist like this- the music is so simple and wonderful. It makes me want to hop in my car, pop this on very loud, and drive into the hills. That must make it good right?”
deepspace

“As the proud owner of Northcape’s debut Cd “Letter to Nowhere” I was really looking forward to hearing this one and I wasn’t disappointed. The first album was excellent, but this one is even better, showing greater maturity in composition and production. This is chilled electronica at it’s best, with beautiful inter-twining melodic lines that wrap themselves around the brain and don’t let go. Great melodies are only half the story though as the right choice of sounds is important, and in this, Northcape proves to be a master of his art. Crystalline synths rise and fall against carefully thought out percussion and magical bass lines that hook you straight in and pull you into an enchanting musical journey. Northcape avoids all the pitfalls of this genre of electronica and never strays into insipid “New age” or the blandness which a lot of chilled electronica is prone to do. This music serves the brain as well as the heart and new things reveal themselves with repeated listens, always the sign of good music in my opinion.The stand-out tracks for me on first listen are “Detach”, “Hedges” and “Skyline”, but that’s not to take anything away from the other tracks which are all excellent. There’s not one track on this album I could give less than eight out of ten, which in my book means it’s a brilliant album and a must-buy. Anyone who’s into intelligent, chilled electronica would do well to check this album out. A consistently beautiful album full of great music.
blipp. (USB)

Northcape excels at beautiful and fluid elctronica that could be described as melodic and mellow but would be better suited by the adjectives, evocative and sensual. He manages to use technology and the genre of electronica and make it sound like hands on instrumentation is being used. If synthesizers could be plucked, Northcape would be the man to do it. It’s also complex without being cluttered. Northcape really understands when less is more and that really helps to give some extra weight to the tracks. Not to say the tracks are sparse by any means, the layers and orchestration on the album are formidable. As you can probably guess, I am quite the fan of Northcapes work. This is an album that has been painstakingly put together by an artist in love with his craft. Everything is where it needs to be. If you like beautiful music then I would heartily recommend ‘Detach’ and while you are at it you may want to treat yourself with his first album, ‘Letter To Nowhere’. It’s records like this that help people understand that electronica does not have to mean cold and mechanical. Stand out tracks for me include, ‘Hedges’ , ‘High Water’ and ‘Fades’.
drt

For those who are unfamiliar with Northcape, imagine music with rhythms of drums and bass driving melodies and atmospheric sounds that float along with a life of their own, seemingly detached and yet connected by the ethereal feel of the composition. The ambient pads create a bed of sound that supports the melody of delayed bells, chimes, and other assorted keyboards while the rhythm tracks add support like the unseen piers of a suspension bridge. I had the privilege of previewing all the tracks on “Detach”, the new release by Northcape, and my only disappointment was when each track ended. You will find the music will continue to weave its way through your mind long after the speakers have gone silent. From the title track “Detach” through “Skyline” all the tracks have a life of their own but the album also has a continuity that will have you playing it over and over. As with Northcape’s debut release, “Letter to nowhere”, I believe “Detach” will find a home in my six-disc CD changer where it reside for a long, long time.
dcallen

Detach is no doubt reminiscent of Boards of Canada and the lighter works of Aphex Twin, but despite any influences Northcape has drawn upon the album stands strong as having its own character – warbling synths and cut up beats provide a warm sense of familiarity within a tapestry of sound woven with superb attention to detail. From the opening track, Detach, the album provides a lush ambience to ease the listener in and throughout fourteen tracks the album never loses its sense of space, an atmosphere that always complements the drifting harmonies and absorbing melodies. Sun Clears The Mind is a notable highlight – warm chords open the track as spliced drums push it forward before a spaced vocal fills out the ambience. Tracks like Rainfall offer a collage of found sounds and beautiful synth work that remains simple without feeling crude. Though often somewhat melancholy, Detach forms a compelling whole; it’s an engrossing album that rewards listeners with an ear for detail.
stompp

January 31st, 2007