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. There is the feeling of some sameness in work as the disc goes along, but it manages to come off as thematic rather than repetitious, and actually works toward helping you get lost in the music. Brown is good with the complex beats, but also nails down more amorphous flows like the start of “Potentilla”–which picks up its own beat later in the track while still singing its main melody softly in your head. Tracks like “Arrive Rutledge Col” might pull up some Boards of Canada memories. Many of the tracks here possess that certain warmth of tone, the slow bounce and lazy lope that plays so well against the crisp snap and hurry of the glitch beats. A personal favorite that falls into that category is “Meltwater,” a quick hit where the main sequencer line is high and a little shiny, a pleasant pulse over a humming pad and cool bass. “Mackerel Sky” is pillow-soft, with typewriter-key percussion and an old-school-sounding sequencer run. 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.
Available from Sun Sea Sky.