North Atlantic Oscillation
Fog Electric


3.5
great

Review

by Karl Malone AKA The Mailman USER (10 Reviews)
July 19th, 2012 | 14 replies | 2,708 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Save this one for a rainy night.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Wikipedia tells me that the North Atlantic oscillation is a phenomenon involving fluctuations of atmospheric pressure at sea level. What this is supposed to tell me about the band North Atlantic Oscillation, I have no idea, but you should know that sh*t because no one f*cks with a guy who can drop some knowledge about obscure meteorological phenomena. Really, listening to the Edinburgh, Scotland-based group's newest effort, Fog Electric, it's easy to imagine yourself
floating in uncharted icy waters surrounded by thick fog and soothing mist. Most likely, however, you are in the safe confines of a basement or bedroom, and you are attempting, like me, to fully grasp an album that does not lack in ambition and atmosphere, but never quite reaches the heights it certainly aims for.


With Fog Electric, North Atlantic Oscillation merge the heavy use of airy synthesizers and sampled drums with the swirling, ethereal falsetto of Sam Healy, as well as instrumentation that represents shades of psychedelia and post-rock. The result is a sound that captures the listener's attention from the beginning. Having never heard of or listened to the group heading into this album, the opening track, "Soft Coda", truly excited me. A simple, yet steady Phil Selway-esque drum pattern, effective (see: not cheesy) synths blended with post-rock inspired guitar and Healy's lush vocals set the general tone for the album. NAO do not stray too far from this formula, but the results are not always as satisfying as "Soft Coda". Less rock-oriented, synth-dominant songs like "Chirality" and "The Receiver" are well-structured but offer nothing unique, sounding more or less like something you may hear on Music Choice's New Age channel. Fortunately, besides those two, there's maybe only one other track on Fog Electric that falls flat.

I'm not very familiar with electronica in general, let alone the specific breed of synthpop/alt-rock/post-rock that North Atlantic Oscillation employs, so it's difficult for me to pinpoint what their influences may be. However, there are moments of Fog Electric that recall Caribou ("Soft Coda", "Expert with Altimeter"), Porcupine Tree ("Empire Waste", "Downhill"), and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that parts of "Mirador" are a little reminiscent of some of Radiohead's weirder forays into electronica. To say that NAO sound like these bands, though, would not be accurate. They are able to take cues from some of their more popular contemporaries while still creating a sound that, while not what I'd call innovative, comes across as fresh and very polished. Fog Electric is a record that should be listened to as a whole. While there are certainly some stand out tracks, not one song pops out as something drastically different from the others. From "Soft Coda" to the ambience of the instrumental closer "(Theory of Tides)", Fog Electric operates as a beautiful collage of meticulous craft. While it may not be the most innovative or exciting thing that the genre has to offer, the album's atmosphere and collection of low-keyed pop songs behind a thick cloud of haze make for an enjoyable listen.

Entry in WeepingBanana's Review a Random Album Game

Check out: Soft Coda, Empire Waste, Expert With Altimeter



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Comments:Add a Comment 
londoncalling457
July 19th 2012



2565 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fuckin notepad fucking up my paragraphs and shit

Rail
July 19th 2012



485 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes! Great review. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. I have a feeling that these guys have a truly great album in them, but they weren't quite able to synthesize everything on this release.

Hopefully this competition will get them some attention on here.

londoncalling457
July 19th 2012



2565 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, like i said, i had never heard of these guys, and i was pleasantly surprised with how much i ended up liking the album after a couple of listens. there's a lot of room for improvement but they definitely know what they're doing

WeepingBanana
July 19th 2012



9893 Comments


looks like we're underway

great review

londoncalling457
July 19th 2012



2565 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks bros. also, i just realized this was released on my birthday. good times.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2012



9464 Comments


"no one f*cks with a guy who can drop some knowledge about obscure meteorological phenomena." [2]

Digging: Koan Sound - Dynasty

londoncalling457
July 19th 2012



2565 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yo what's up brother

Zantera
October 10th 2012



93 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm really loving this album actually. Right up my alley in terms of sound.

Digging: Neurosis - The Eye of Every Storm

Mad.
May 15th 2013



2923 Comments


Kind of disappointing they didn't explore the "floating in uncharted icy waters surrounded by thick fog and soothing mist" themes to the full, a lot of songs on this album sound pretty similar.

It's not bad though and I agree with Rail, they could make something truly amazing...

Mad.
July 31st 2013



2923 Comments


Damn, Soft Coda is such a good song

Rail
July 31st 2013



485 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have you heard their first record? It's a wee bit better than this one, I think.

Mad.
August 1st 2013



2923 Comments


I have Cell Count, which is quite possibly better than any song on this album, so I'll give it a listen

shostakoverture
October 1st 2013



27 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really liked "The Receiver" actually. I'd call "Interval" the weakest track, but to me it's intended as more of an interlude. My favourite NAO track is "Drawing Maps From Memory," as Grappling Hooks was an incredible album, but Fog Electric is a strong contender, too.

Mad.
October 2nd 2013



2923 Comments


I still need to hear Grappling Hooks

Saw them live though, they were alright



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