Writing these artist profiles can be laborious – when you are not being sent music by the labels – pre-digested and regurgitated one-sheets wrapped in mesmerizing pretense – that involves sifting through and researching dozens and dozens of unfiltered lists of untested artists, most of whom haven’t even had to commit (due to the near instantaneous broadcasting medium that is the internet) to even mastering or pressing a CD or vinyl. The process can be akin to that cliche of looking for a needle in a haystack.
So when we find something special, it feels really special, because likely we are actually FINDING it. That is not to say that the artists we choose are necessarily ascetics living in caves – certainly they have their own followings and small array of accolades, but generally, they are not known by the general public. And so it is with great pleasure that we introduce the work of Mark Northfield to our audience.
Mark’s dreamy piano-based music has a tinge of theatricality to it in the same vein as XTC. It flutters between Beatles-grade melody and esoteric dissonance. It introduces choir-like vocals or string ensembles without warning before just as easily returning to unnervingly intimate whispering vocals and beautifully played piano passages that use the entire panorama of keys, unlike so many droney dance tracks. This is the work of a higher mind that deserves its place in the same pantheon as Aqualung, Antony and the Johnsons, Damien Rice or anything by Andy Partridge. We are happy to add Mark’s song The Calm to MusicZeitgeist’s free indie playlist.
MusicZeitgeist had the opportunity to ask Mark some questions about the source of his output:
A pianist, songwriter, arranger and occasional singer from the UK known as Mark Northfield.
His album Ascendant is a collaboration with nine other vocalists, carefully chosen to suit each song and paid in wine. It’s a near continuous soundtrack of piano/string dominated romanticism and melancholy; dark, lush and a little bit cinematic. The Divine Comedy vs This Mortal Coil refereed by Pink Martini.
It’s the pursuit of truth by the most beautiful scenic detour available.
MZ: Until When?
Until he dies, probably. A new album is due to be recorded in the summer of 2009, with some choreographic/film collaborations planned in the meantime for YouTubing purposes. Dying has not been penciled in as yet.
Everywhere and nowhere, thanks to the variable joys of modern technology. The album is available at Rough Trade, CD Baby, emusic and iTunes.
* To see your act in MZ’s Artist Profile, submit to our gig listing at Sonicbids today!
(not all acts are selected)