In the early stages of my discovering new realms of instrumental music (circa 2012), one of the first albums that really caught and held my attention was Canvas (Polar Seas Recordings) by North Atlantic Drift. I was mesmerized and haunted by the vast melancholic landscapes and the melding of statuesque post rock melodic structures with glacial ambient textures. Following in fairly quick succession with Monuments (Sound in Silence) and Resolven (Polar Seas Recordings), the project entered a relatively quiet period as members Mike Abercrombie (aka Transits of Mercury) and Brad Deschamps (aka Anthéne) worked on their respective solo endeavors and growing their Polar Seas Recordings label.
The release of Visitor (Polar Seas Recordings) in 2016 brought with it evolutionary changes as the percussive and post rock leaning elements gave way to greater focus on ambient abstractions and textural elements. The band continued decisively on this trajectory with the “Departures” series which saw Volume 1 released last year while expanding their reach to embrace even greater lushness and the incorporation of orchestral motifs while continually refining the filigree of their sound design. With live bonus tracks and a pair of long form pieces released as Volume 1.5, the project seemed again in full swing and it is good to see this continue with the recent release of the full-length Volume 2 on Athens-based Sound in Silence.
One thing that has remained consistent is the strong feeling that this music comes to us from northern climes, conveying a sense of solitude in the stillness of vast open spaces. These are crepuscular, wintry landscapes of the mind that thaw ever so slowly in ethereal diffusions of light. The liner notes offer Eno, Stars of the Lid, and Loscil as reference points for new listeners and these comparisons are justifiable, but the now-familiar melodic shapes, wide-screen atmospherics, and reverberant guitars help define a sound that is very much North Atlantic Drift’s own. Soothing and enthralling at the same time, Volume 2 is a beauty and the complete series makes for a simply extraordinary journey.
Departures, Vol 2 is offered in two distinct limited CD editions by Sound in Silence. The deluxe edition (50 copies) comes in sewn fabric envelope and includes the exclusive bonus track “Vast”. The regular limited edition (150 copies) comes in a hand-stamped cadet blue cardboard envelope. Both editions have a front cover image printed on a Polaroid style photo paper and are bundled with a download code coupon.