Reviews of ‘Exploration and Ascent’

Wisely, Northcape raised his sights beyond the realm of cultural plundering so there are no Tibetan/Nepalese samples or “world music” modal influences in evidence. Instead, the tracks aspire to capture timeless characteristics of the Himalayas and high, mountainous, (strangely?) isolated places more generally…it’s clear Northcape has refined and advanced his sound in the three years since Captured From Static. The songs have a wider dynamic range, stretch out each new idea, and contain an interesting variety of instruments and effects… The album’s flow and pacing is impeccable, such that by the time the last track “Carbon” trails off into a crackle of static that evokes a dying campfire, we feel we have traveled to the high places, then been brought safely home by a skilled and compassionate guide.
Igloo Magazine (Eric Sorenson)

Exploration and Ascent is Northcape’s 4th album and second from the Illinois based Sun Sea Sky imprint. While his last outing Captured From Static had echoes of Toytronic recordings stalwart Gimmik as well as some undercurrents of mid era New Order this new album which apparently is inspired by Himalayan exploration has an even more laid back feel than its predecesor. Alastair Brown the man behind Northcape seems to have really found his niche with this one as the album features carefully crafted melodies that can, and do, conjure up visions of distant snowy peaks, crisp blue skies, and melting glaciers where clouds seem to be just within grasp.

This album made me think of the mighty Boards Of Canada and their seminal classic “Music Has The Right To Children” … the warmth of the synths … the skittering beats … it was almost an instant connection and, if I am truly honest, I cannot think of a greater compliment… Yes, I do love this album and look forward to long, lazy Sunday afternoons … out in my back garden or in a park … with this album providing the soundtrack to the moment. It has that kind of vibe about it … the deservedly relaxed feel you get when you kick back after a hard day’s work.

“If you’re into experimental music with a hint of post-rock and a large influence of ambient music then you’re looking at the right place! … Exploration and Ascent is pure machine soul, reminiscent of forgotten landscapes, timeless and spaceless…Many of you that love electronic and ambient music will enjoy Exploration and Ascent for its escapism; it’s not important where you are…”
Echoes And Dust (Daniela Patrizi)

“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… 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.”

“There is a North Cape somewhere in Norway. Herring seas and ‘Mackerel Sky’ no doubt. It is a place to view the midnight sun. I imagine Exploration And Ascent would make the perfect accompaniment. Outdoor sporty types, if you like IDM, and downtempo music get Northcape. Wear Northcape. Fly.
[sic] Magazine