So far as prime artistic statements go, there are few as cohesive as Darkstar's debut full-length North. Three Northerners (James Young, Aiden Whalley and James Buttery), harnessing that preternatural melancholy of Northern England and doing so with so few reference points that they've nearly created a genre unto themselves. This particular road North began several years ago, in a flat in London of all places. Having traveled south to the city from their hometowns, Whalley and Young marinated in the myriad underground music nights that London offered. Soon they were throwing warehouse parties and producing and releasing their own 12"s informed by a shared appreciation of techno, leftfield pop music and the still-young sound of dubstep.
One of their creations soon caught the ear of consummate DJ Kode 9, and was released on his rapidly ascending Hyperdub label. That song, "Aidy's Girl is a Computer" would become a club anthem of 2009. With it's skipping tempo and bright interplay between synth and vocoder it would break the mould of dubstep's then-standard sonic palette and introduce the duo as "ones to watch". The next move would be to decamp to their East London flat to write and record and album.
Most of the songs recorded in that time would never see the light of day. Says James Young, "It was very much what people would expect from a Darkstar album. But personally we couldn't follow through with that. It felt that we were doing something to get it over with and not learning anything in return. It was a convenient route and to be honest, boring. We scrapped nearly all the album and started again. This was around late December 09. At that point we were at our lowest as Darkstar." - The solution would come by bringing friend and vocalist James Buttery into their studio for some informal sessions. These would form the basis of what would finally become North, as well as solidifying Darkstar as a trio.
The band's new composition would mark a step in new directions. Incorporating epic, timeless pop, primal post-punk and industrial and fusing these with their love of avant-garde club music and near-shamanic ambient creations would all lend North a gravity that few records in recent years have exuded. "Gold", the album's first single, is a drastic re-interpretation of an already obscure Human League B-side that not only introduced the evolved sound of Darkstar, but found fast fans across the world aided by a brilliant video that perfectly melds technology and psychedelia.
Dozens of sold-out international performances would follow, as would overwhelming critical acclaim for the album with The Guardian calling it "a devastating kind of melancholy synth-pop", the BBC declaring it "forlorn and spacious" and indie final-word Pitchfork saying "it invited repeat listens to divulge it's secrets and murmurings". This would all be followed by the band finding a new home on the venerable Warp Records and the eager anticipation of a new audience for what the future will hold.