The Toronto based Northumbria specialise is cloying drone atmospheres culled from only the hugely amplified tones of guitar and bass and this debut was recorded completely live (in a church nonetheless). There’s a definite urgency in their take on the genre that takes a hold almost immediately. High waves of frequency seep into your conscious and the sounds that Jim Field and Dorian Williamson (both Holoscene members) make are truly dripping with a stately warmth. Their hums and thrums are full of texture and a sense of movement and there’s an all-round feeling that Northumbria is a constant forward motion into the unknown.
Jim Field – Guitar, Dorian Williamson – Bass
“Lux Lunae” introduces the record with a richness otherwise not heard on a drone piece and this lush landscape of noise evolves and breathes with beauty and knowledge. It’s strange to think of drone as something this deep and tangible, but Northumbria have done something most bands of this type avoid – which is imbue their music with a regal passion and an honesty. That’s not to say that there aren’t drone bands out there that do that, of course not, but some musicians go all out to alienate and make their music as cold and obtuse as possible, whereas some bands – Northumbria – go in the opposite direction and fill their soundscape with a morose and physical hue.
“Threnody” meanders with a distinct and hypnotising melancholy and underneath it all, there’s a hidden but quite magical melody to be heard. Northumbria envelopes you in a cloak of grey shadows and they music could easily be the soundtrack to cold walk on a foggy morning in the hills. It’s cinematic in it’s depth and there’s a lovely feeling of hope that runs throughout the tracks. There’s no doom and certainly no gloom despite the overarching feeling of sadness. The sadness comes from the past and is expelled through the music that Northumbria create, you get the feeling that Northumbria is a record of catharsis, one that needed to be made in order to deal with things that have happened and to move on. Hope is borne from experience and it seems that here, Northumbria are using their sounds in order to move on and during “Black Sea of Trees” great moments of upheaval rise and fall with the currents enabling the music to continue it’s journey towards redemption. “Sanctuary” ends the record on luxurious waves and crests of sound, and reinforces the notion that Northumbria is a journey of initial anguish and pain, and then….delicate redemption.
Northumbria is gorgeous and sad and hopeful. Northumbria are divine.