North Atlantic Oscillation, sounds like the technical name for a cyclonic Inuit dance doesn’t it, when in fact it’s a climactic phenomenon that controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. In this case it’s also the name of a fascinating, experimental rock band from Scotland – not known for affecting the weather.

They are, however, a storm of conflicting styles and time signatures that smash into each other without regard for the listener’s sanity. Grunge, post rock, electronica, prog and jazz sometimes run simultaneously, or overlap making for an experience that is as beguiling as it is fascinating and just downright confusing. Boring this isn’t.

One moment you’ll think you’re listening to Sigur Ros, as on opening track “Marrow”, then a segment of Brian Eno, Grandaddy, or Damon Albarn will be squeezed between schizophrenic segments of explosive drumming. Next, on “Star Chamber” we find ourselves listening to Alice In Chains, and finally Mum on final track “Ritual”.

The only complaint to be made is that these disparate fragments don’t always sit well together. There are plenty of well executed ideas, but there’s a lack of focus. NAO could do with spending more time thinking about the kind of music that they want to make rather than emulating their many heroes

That aside, this is a stunning debut album from a band with more ideas than they know what to do with. Lack of talent is not the problem (as it is with a massive majority of musicians), it’s that there’s too much, and it will be amazing to see what NAO do with it in the coming years. I think it will be honed into something pretty stunning.

Release Date 22/03/2010 (KScope)

Chris Gilliver

I started out writing for the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist back in 2008. The idea that I would be given free access to music and gigs seemed somehow miraculous to me, and I proceeded to take full advantage of the situation. When the M.E.N. decided to constrict its coverage to only the very biggest bands, Simon Poole approached me with a plan to make sure that all the very talented musicians of this world that pass through and/or live in Manchester would not go unnoticed. As the New Releases editor here at Silent Radio Towers, it remains my proud duty to cast a critical eye over the music and reviews that come my way in a manner that is both supportive and fair. Above all, I strive to write as entertainingly possible. Favourite musicians include the Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mercury Rev, Os Mutantes, The Knife, Beach House etc etc. I'm a firm believer that all genres (except nu-metal) contain music of great quality...