I started off listening to All The Ships At Sea while reading the Canadian/Maritime classic novel Rockbound. I figured it would help me connect a little more with the nautical theme of the record. I soon closed the book, ultimately distracted by the intricacies that were spouting from my headphones, and realized my mistake. I live in Toronto, very secluded from any ocean but a listener’s location doesn’t matter to North Atlantic Explorers. You don’t need to hear the rhythmic impulses of the ocean from your bedroom to understand this band. North Atlantic Explorers listen to the sea, talk back, and translates its mightiness to anyone who’ll listen; seafaring or not.
Touted as an “ambient instrumental companion piece” to North Atlantic Explorers’ 2014 record My Father Was A Sailor, All The Ships At Sea does excel when played before or after My Father Was A Sailor, better yet when the two albums are played on shuffle so all of the tracks’ ghostly geographies weave together, but it’s not essential. The 13 tracks that Captain Glenn D’Cruze crafts are intricate and compelling, and no less accessible than its predecessor.
Playing with an electro-folk soundscape, All The Ships At Sea shines in its simple and soft combinations of piano and clarinet (“Martaban” and “Dunmore”) while other songs like “Sapphire” and “Agate” fully embrace the “cinematic” labeling of the album as both their respectively heady atmospheres sound like part of a score from an emotional film.
Where the electronics are kicked-up, “Cape Nelson” has a crunchy electronic-drum beat throughout and closer “Sailing By” has a stuttering beat running along the background, North Atlantic Explorers are still able to pull them into the album thanks to their inviting piano melodies. Likewise, “Lapwing,” the most riotous track of All The Ships At Sea, moves between forceful distorted guitar riffs (perhaps in an effort to match the cry of the bird it shares its name with) and gentle electronic keys but manages to never stray from the album’s cohesive aesthetic.
Venture in the slipstream of North Atlantic Explorers – all are welcome.
Top Tracks: “Dunmore”; “Lapwing”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)