Review: Northumbria – S/T

It’s instantly evident why followers of TQA Records – headed by Eric Quach of Thisquietarmy – would have been quick to snap this one up. Northumbria and Quach’s project are like neighbouring stars in the cosmos; it’s “planetarium music” if you will, immense in the panorama of its stereo spread and its sheer weight, with guitars rumbling like amplified lunar orbit or glistening like luminous comet trails overhead. Perhaps it’s the duo’s adherence to minor-key harmony in the early stages or ominous surges of low frequency throughout, but there’s a sense of disrupted equilibrium too – the advent of apocalyptic collapse, played out in spilling feedback and beautiful sweeps of reversed guitar lead that form slithering fractures in the surface of the soundscape’s astral dome.

Yet Northumbria don’t play into the hands of the dreadful climax that potentially lays before them. While “Lux Lunae” and “Threnody” simmer with this sense of impending cataclysmic denouement, “Windhorse” is an unexpected blissful recovery, exhibiting a certain meditative peace within its intense volume; guitars sound like waves of light collapsing into themselves, caught in shimmering loops and crumbling into a mass of low-end improvisation. With the final two pieces – “Black Sea Of Trees” and “Sanctuary” – it becomes evident that the loom of catastrophe was actually a prelude to a wondrous ecstasy, guiding the listener away from the jaws of the black hole and into the kaleidoscopic vortex of rebirth. Glorious stuff.