North Atlantic Oscillation – Grappling Hooks

posted 23 Mar 2010, 03:02 by Joe Richardson


Released: 22nd March 2010

by Fred Palmer

That a band should take its name from a complex climatic phenomenon suggests they must be quite a serious, astute bunch. North Atlantic Oscillation are certainly that and their debut album “Grappling Hooks” conveys this image entirely. NAO’s sound is brooding and melancholy, yet also contains a kind of joyous element which makes their music utterly entrancing. Not unlike Sigur Ros, NAO manage to find a perfect balance between their slow, wandering melodies, their haunting vocals and occasional bursts of feverish energy; an ability that illuminates them as masters in their field.


Highlights of the album include “Drawing Maps From Memory” (released as a single on March 8th) and “Cell Count”, both stunning, multi-layered tracks that take full advantage of the band’s passion for diversity; an eclectic array of instruments can be identified, with the melodies ranging from the soothing hum of electronic synths to the elegant symphonies of a skilfully-played piano. The album is well-titled; this music well and truly hooks the listener, the various instruments oscillating between one another with triumphant results.


All in all, North Atlantic Oscillation are summed up by the words you might use to describe their name; unusual, complex, unique, beguiling, audacious and engaging. Oh and one more...outstanding. Though far from being a band that will fill a dance floor, NAO stand as an example of intellectual music at its best. Hauntingly beautiful melodies that are just as suited to providing quiet ambiance as they are to being blasted out of speakers at full volume. Either way, these tracks demand to be heard.