Album release: Alterations by Mark Northfield
Release date: 2 July 2012
“Seriously great songs” – Tom Robinson
“I fully believe in well-thought through albums as an artform worth preserving. They give both artists and listeners the chance to find deeper emotional and intellectual connections with music. Short stories and short films can be great, but would we settle for a world without full-length versions of either? I think not. People forget that listening doesn't have to be a passive activity simply to create wallpaper, it can very much be an active experience, almost an art in its own right. We should resist the option of skipping tracks just because technology makes it easy for us: forever skimming the surface of things dulls the senses over time.”
So begins Mark Northfield, as he talks of a modern musical mindset growing narrower and narrower. It follows then, that Alterations’ first lyric is ‘I heard a pop song today, it was grimly efficient…’ – heard on opener The Death of Copyright. The track Some Songs… contrastingly feels steeped in drama, testament not only to Northfield’s accomplished writing skills but also to his view that he makes music first and foremost as an outsider; a self-imposed tag largely attributed to having spent years in front of a piano, being ultra skinny, and having a precise BBC accent in a sea of yokel twang. Alterations is a record sure to resonate with those who feel the same.
It’s no wonder then that he began writing songs to say what couldn't be said otherwise; songs that go head to head with cultural (and religious) assumptions, and deeper questions of human existence. Even in his more traditional song-writing moments, Northfield’s lyrical talent lies in his embedding of language that suggests wider interpretations.
Alterations is entirely written by Mark Northfield, right down to the lush string arrangements, while the many vocal collaborations are his way of bringing a wide range of artistic sensibilities into the frame.
Taking in a wide range of influences including Simon & Garfunkel, The Divine Comedy, Radiohead and Rufus Wainwright, as well as the classical likes of Chopin and Beethoven, Alterations’ trajectory is set to outsider pop with a quintessentially English bent, most notably rearing its head in Reminders Remind’s spoken word piece, and album closer The Forecaster – an ode to the weather. What could be more English than that?
What sets Northfield apart is his own rich sense of melodicism infused with melancholy, occasional wit and deft lyric writing. Not to mention a willingness to tread his own sonic path, irrespective of fashion.
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