(Consouling Sounds, 2014)
Toronto-based Northumbria could be labeled as an Ambient-band, although they have chosen the moniker Ambient Metal to describe the soundscapes they produce, due to the instruments of their choice. Using only guitar and bass, the duo of Jim Field and Dorian Williamson (formerly of the Ambient Post-Rock/Metal-band Holoscene) create huge walls of sound, clearly with large amounts of skill and expertise when it comes to crafting vast audial landscapes. Without knowing exactly how they do their magic, I am guessing the material is recorded live through different amplifiers and various effects.
The result is extremely diverse and awesome. Sometimes the strings of the two instruments summon huge and heavy entities of drony haze, taking you immediately to a dreamlike states of hypnotic calm trance. Sometimes the guitars play slow yet beautiful leads, somewhat reminiscent of for example the later albums of Pink Floyd in their style. There are many moments when it seems incredible this music has being made with using only the guitar and the bass, since the sounds are often very synth-like. This is most definitely work of true audial-wizards. Although there are parts where the sound breaks in a noisy and drony way (which is most likely the intention of the musicians anyway), the overall quality of the sounds on this album is very high.
The music has a tendency to take me to quite different mindscapes. There were parts when I felt like sitting in a cabin somewhere very far up north, surrounded by frost and snow, turning on the radio only to find a single station playing this music. There were parts when I was soaring above the clouds in daylight, like watching from a window of an aeroplane, and times when I was lying by the warm sunny beach in the caress of the clear blue sea. I am guessing these same parts might give me different feelings on the next listens, as some music tends to work according to set and setting. This kind of audial art is definitely rich in many magical qualities.
The cover-picture of the album fits the music splendidly, with it’s partly thin and luminous, partly heavy and hanging kingdom of clouds spreading in various densities over the dry and cracking land. I heartily recommend this to all into Ambient music or to anyone simply in need of some quality escapism.