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North Atlantic Oscillation - Fog Electric CD (album) cover


North Atlantic Oscillation


Crossover Prog

3.50 | 52 ratings

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4 stars 3.5 Stars. Expert with high energy

Fog Electric is the second album from alternative-prog band North Atlantic Oscillation and sees them settling down into a more focused and consistent sound compared to their first album. This comes with the benefit of better flow and a concept-album feel, however they could also be accused of writing songs with not enough variety between them and they are definitely predictable. This is a fast paced and noisy album, the band loves to shower the listener with hard hitting but catchy electronic rock while Chris Howard sings with in a level headed, almost robotic voice.

"Soft Coda" begins with some haunting wordless harmonies before settling into a fast and restless rhythm. There are fluctuations in energy between the verses and choruses but the general nature is a controlled hyperactivity with lots of things happening but the band never let things become chaotic. The song finishes with a intense instrumental. Its worth saying that the music on this album is never aggressive, only very energetic and LOAD.

"Chirality" begins much more delicately and has a almost ballet type feel to it at the beginning. Emotion is present here but the sleek production and Howard's voice gives it a artificial tone. Not necessarily in a negative way but this may put off some listeners. The intro is short lived and the second half of the song ia a steady build-up which gives way to another noisy closer. The lyrics on this song and album are very complicated (Yes without the new-age) so unless you have a passion for literature don't expect to understand or fully appreciate the words.

"Mirador" has a more epic type feel compared to the other songs even though its length is average. The song focuses on drama instead of noise and is the most coherent song so far. The lyrics refer to the title of this album and "fog electric" is probably the best adjective to describe this track. There is a ominous and mysterious feel, but there is plenty of energy and brightness to the sound. Cool song.

"Empire Waste" is a song of two halves. The first is another fast paced electronic rock track (getting a bit bored at this point) which is at maximum volume. The second half is very different as the band finally settle into a gentle and beautiful melody. I wish there were more quiet moments like this on the album because they do have a talent for beautiful songs. At least they draw out this section so it can be properly enjoyed.

"Savage With Barometer" snaps you out of the gentle atmosphere and blasts you with gritty and harsh noise, in fact this is the noisiest song on the album. It reminds me of God Speed You! Black Emperor's most recent album where they craft songs out of chaotic noise, although this song does not go to such extremes. Behind the noise is a relatively simple but catchy song and again the singing is very controlled and restrained. It makes for a interesting and quite unique contrast when compared with the chaotic and random noises.

"Interval" is rich in atmosphere and suspension and is effectively one big build-up. It has a almost psychedelic sound due to the heavy distortion and sound effects although the modern sleek edge that dominates this album is never lost. Sadly the fantastic build-up leads to nothing which is a shame as it could have been something amazing.

"Expert With Altimeter" is the most cheerful and poppy song here and would fit very nicely in many alternative rock albums. While being just as noisy as most of the other songs there is a greater focus on melody and vocals which explains why it is more assessable. This should be a great crowd pleaser during tours.

"The Receiver" is probably the most Proggy song on the album and is made of multiple sections that are all well joint together. While being more complex then the other songs the journey is the same, a quiet beginning with a steady build-up which finishes with intense post-rock style playing at the end. That does not stop it from being a enjoyable song and there are links in themes to previous songs, therefore making it the climax of the album and a highlight for sure.

"Downhill" as the name indicates is a gloomier finish to the album. Unlike the other songs it is low energy and much more restrained, however this matches the lyrics which are about the gradual ruin of the machine that keeps the crew men alive. Its not a Prog song by any means, just alternative rock with some smart elements. There is also a reprise of the vocal harmony that started the album which makes for a nice finishing touch. There is a bonus track which consists of mainly ambient music and is nothing special.

Rating this album is difficult as objectively I would give this 3 stars due to it not being essential in any way and Prog purists won't have enough to sink their teeth into. However I listened to this album a lot in 2012 when I got it and despite being repetitive and predictable I was not easily bored which is a credit to the band. 3.5 stars is exactly what it deserves but I will round up this time because they are talented and deserve some more exposure.

Recommended for listeners who want intelligent but easy to absorb and energetic rock. I would also strongly recommend it to people who are also fans of alternative rock. While not amazing this album is very solid and stands up well to repeated listens. Give it a go!

LakeGlade12 | 4/5 |


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