Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Piano, Take 2 - Mark Northfield

So after chatting about Jon Regen yesterday, I have another piano driven album for you, albeit one quiet different than Let It Go. Tonight's ebony and ivory album comes from Londoneer Mark Northfield and it's titled Ascendant. While the album is presented under Mark's name, its composition is somewhat unique in that although all the songs are written and arranged by him, all but one track are sung by nine other vocalists (the one track you can hear Mark's voice on, Zero, is below).

Mark labels his music Alt Classical, and while all of the compositions primarily balance around his piano and strings, I wouldn't pigeon-hole it under that genric title. The album starts with Waiting for Green, which although is sung by a man, very much reminds me of Tori Amos with its playful interplay between the piano and strings and its echoing flitting about. Following this is Resistance, which starts as if a slower tempo continuation of the first track (with a different vocalist), but quickly veers into new territory with the infusion of a saxophone punctuating and accentuating interludes about a third of the way through. From there, once again the scene shifts with The Calm, which opens with what sounds like monks or a choir, as if you had stepped from a jazz club into a cathedral.

And those are only the first three of nine tracks on the album. The unifying aspect which weaves itself through from beginning to end is the piano playing of Mark Northfield. Overall, the album paints a somewhat dark, melancholic, introspective picture (think a piano-hued version of This Mortal Coil's softer work) perhaps best enjoyed late at night with a fine glass of red wine (preferably not from a box). It's complexity and intricacies belie its use of few instruments, and Mark's choice of employing a diverse range of vocalists help add touches of uniqueness to each track.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.


This Mortal Coil - Mr. Somewhere
: Blood

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