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FOURTEEN NIGHTS AT SEA – THE GREAT NORTH

Great North is a brooding, atmospheric and expansive instrumental work that is bound to leave you thinking (though probably not happy thoughts). As I drove along the back roads on the return journey from a weekend in my hometown, I thought I’d take the opportunity to sample something new. In doing so, one thing I can say for sure is that the journey was memorable.

I didn’t know what to expect as I plugged in my iPod and hit play, but I do know the gathering storm of sound and feeling that began with Glass Monster was not it. The best way I can describe my first taste of Fourteen Nights at Sea is that it was not so much like listening to a distinct and individual opening track, as it was like commencing an experience. The melancholic, haunted feeling to the song carried through the rest of the album, threading each of the six pieces together to form a whole. And that whole is a dark tapestry of sound that evokes a particular mood—a particular sentiment.

But it does more than this; accompanying the blanketing mood is a sense of foreboding. Mournful, plaintive, and occasionally-screeching guitar is measured by a cautious, almost limping drum beat that conjures a premonition that something is about to happen. Occasionally it does—Glass Monster bursts into an unexpected frenzy of life at its twilight, for instance, while Ghost kicks off in a roused, agitated and thumping state at first. But the power of this music lies more in its ability to conjure feelings that might be had around an event: foreboding beforehand, reflection afterwards…

A bit of research into this fascinating band revealed a description that I have to draw on, one that refers to their being a fearsome, thoughtful force to be drank in, wholly and willingly.1 That’s a pretty apt description for mine and applies well to this album particularly, as it does reflect a sense of having drunk in an experience, and of subsequently existing in a melancholic contemplation of that experience. There’s a sense of the sound and mood flowing right through you; of it being absorbed by every part of you.

This is the sort of album to listen to if you value a particular mood being amplified by music. It’s unlikely to put you in a happy mood, or to amp you up to go out moshing, but it will affect you; it will most likely leave you in a particularly reflective state. Perhaps the closest I can come to illuminating how it made me feel is to say that it captured the sort of feeling I might have after coming home from the pub late (very late) and a little worse for wear, but unprepared for sleep and wanting to sit back in a darkened room, light up a smoke and chill, while thinking about my lot and lamenting past wounds.

A striking feature of this album that is of great credit to its creators is that it is truly, undeniably memorable. It is a unique work worth listening to for particular reasons, including to get you thinking and to enjoy the amplification of a particular mood. But it will do that very effectively, and you will remember it having done so for a long time afterwards.

Fourteen Nights at Sea on Facebook

The Great North is out now through Hobbledehoy Records

Great North earns itself 24 out of 28 days.

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