North Atlantic Oscillation – Grappling Hooks

Release Date 22/03/2010 (KScope)

By Chris Gilliver

North Atlantic Oscillation, sounds like the technical name for a cyclonic Inuit dance doesn’t it, when in fact it’s a climactic phenomenon that controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. In this case it’s also the name of a fascinating, experimental rock band from Scotland – not known for affecting the weather.

They are, however, a storm of conflicting styles and time signatures that smash into each other without regard for the listener’s sanity. Grunge, post rock, electronica, prog and jazz sometimes run simultaneously, or overlap making for an experience that is as beguiling as it is fascinating and just downright confusing. Boring this isn’t.

nao28 lo res.jpgOne moment you’ll think you’re listening to Sigur Ros, as on opening track “Marrow”, then a segment of Brian Eno, Grandaddy, or Damon Albarn will be squeezed between schizophrenic segments of explosive drumming. Next, on “Star Chamber” we find ourselves listening to Alice In Chains, and finally Mum on final track “Ritual”.

The only complaint to be made is that these disparate fragments don’t always sit well together. There are plenty of well executed ideas, but there’s a lack of focus. NAO could do with spending more time thinking about the kind of music that they want to make rather than emulating their many heroes

That aside, this is a stunning debut album from a band with more ideas than they know what to do with. Lack of talent is not the problem (as it is with a massive majority of musicians), it’s that there’s too much, and it will be amazing to see what NAO do with it in the coming years. I think it will be honed into something pretty stunning.

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