Review of Grappling Hooks Album by North Atlantic Oscillation

A bizarre and sonic intervention finds its way into the end of the album's opener: offbeat drums mix with buried, obtuse vocals after a minute of pretty ambience. It's a fitting start to the strange Grappling Hooks by North Atlantic Oscillation.

North Atlantic Oscillation Grappling Hooks Album

The lack of convention follows into the second track- Barrett-era Floyd segues into a fuzz-laden breakbeat, matching perhaps The Doves at their surreal best as the dreamlike vocals return complete with 'ooh la la la' counterparts; a rising synth approaches and slowly takes point as the song, Hollywood Has Ended approaches a rapid and visceral crescendo. A fantastic opening gambit.

The surreality continues throughout the rest of the record, with some special use of discordance throughout what perhaps aren't my favourite songs on the album- but the soundscapes produced are some of the best I've heard in a long while. That said, I'm not a particularly huge fan of 60's style psychadelia, which is what this can approach; it's pulled off very well and integrated fantastically if you are. If you want comparisons, as I said above, The Doves is a good place to start, but the synth would be much more at home in a modern Radiohead album- and maybe even Pink Floyd would provide a good frame of reference, if not entirely suitable for a direct comparison.

The album is extremely varied, changing massively from song to song, flirting heavily with synth and electronic beats, actively interacting with elements of psychadelia and bringing it all together with excellent song craft.

Conrad Hughes