Album Review: North Sea Navigator – The Memory Clears the Space for What’s Needed

Former Gravenhurst sideman Paul Nash has been trading under the name North Sea Navigator for a while now, expanding the line up from himself to a three piece and then to a four piece band recently, but its his solo eponymous album for Felt that is getting its commercial release, titled ‘The Memory Clears the Spacce for What’s Needed’ and its out on April 13th via Blurred Recordings.

Largely a moody, instrumental album that covers space between neo-classicism and ambient soundscapes, there are moments of what approaches post-rock, and a handful of ‘songs’, in that they have vocals and words and things, which Nash has tied together with his lovely instrumental arrangements into a whole. It’s a record that deals with, certainly in its mood, the fog of melancholy, even unhappiness, and is for long periods, dream-like, perhaps portraying a painful memory dulled, the minds deliberate attempt to forget, the clearing of space of the title.

There are some lovely moments in the album, particularly opener Pure Modulations in Space and TIme, which features the aching and sighing strings which permeate the whole album, and the emotive vocals which manage to wrench every little bit of emotion out of you. Elsewhere there is the stripped back beauty of the rend and the heartbreaking You’re a sort of Mistake, which along with ‘In the dark of the beaches’ inhabit this sort of murky, folkiness that gripped Adem some years back.

Much of the rest of the album is this piano led cinematic ambience, which becomes increasingly prevalent as the album passes its midway point, with ‘Hypatia, Keeper of Keepers’ and ‘Travelling through a Labyrinth’ having moments of heartstopping beauty. Album closer ‘Dimming Light in the widening dead stars’ the initially bluesy ‘Follow me, unfollow you’ and (in particular) ‘Youngstuff Waves Goodbye’ make for post-rock territory, the latter coming close to a muffled Mogwai.

If you’ve an hour to spend in the darkened quiet of a room, alone with memories and fears and loneliness, then this record will accompany that almost perfectly. Otherwise, grab onto the special moments contained within when you can, and we wait with interest to see what will happen when the fog clears…..

‘Pure Modulations in Space and Time’, out on April 13th via Blurred Recordings.


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