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North Americans: NO_NO

North Americans review, North Americans, No_No, No_No  review, LP, album reviewNorth Americans — NO_NO

Release date(s): Jan. 28
Our Rating: 2/5
Spec Recs: “Torch”
In one word: Ominous

NO_NO is not an album for the lighthearted. It is music that will cast a spell on you and leave you transfixed and maybe even a little confused. NO_NO is the debut LP from Patrick McDermott’s solo project North Americans. This dark ambient music is unlike anything on the radio and reminiscent of electronic music in its infancy from the mid 1900s. Edgar Varese was one of the forefathers of electronic music who, according to The Liberation of Sound,  thought that “to stubbornly conditioned ears, anything new in music has always been called noise,” and brought up the question, “what is music but organized noises?” NO_NO makes you question the difference between what is considered noise and what is considered music, or if there is a difference.

Ambient music is very visual to me. North Americans’ out-of-this-world music presents powerful mental images and provides a twisted sense of relaxation. The sounds may not be beautiful in a conventional sense, but the beauty is in its dysfunction. NO_NO tells a story. A story that is open to interpretation by the listener. The listener just has to be open-minded to the dreamy, distorted and strange world of North Americans.

The album opens with the dreary “2004.” It is filled with ominous low tones, creepy distorted samples on loop, and lots of clicking. This song is a good opener for the album because it sort of eases the listener into the warped sounds of NO_NO. As the album progresses, the songs get darker and more eerie. Each song transitions seamlessly into the next, almost making the album seem like one giant song. The first half of the album sounds like a mesh of static, feedback, and church bells. It is organized chaos at its finest.

The song that stood out to me the most is the 8-minute saga “Torch.” It is a lot brighter than the other tracks and filled with so many effects it can be difficult to take in all the seemingly random bursts of sounds. Its various contrasting sounds create a rich texture that is unlike anything I have heard. If technology could convey emotion, it would sound like this song.

The album concludes with “Chris Davis,” a slow burning song with a surprise ending. It begins with the familiar distortion and hypnotizing synths that are present in all the songs, but then the static begins to fade and through it comes a happy jingle that plays on loop and then abruptly stops.

McDermott’s masterful manipulation of sounds can be difficult to endure at times. It’s sliced and diced and not exactly your typical elevator music. His music feels like a dark fog is slowly casting over you and you have no choice but to fall victim to its soothing but scary prowess.

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