1000 Reviews /// Northern Diver EP by Northern Diver
by Joseph Sardella
A self-titled work is always interesting to me, especially when it’s the artist’s first release. It’s enough of a testament to be willing to put one’s name on something in the first place artistically, let alone name said thing after yourself or your project. That has huge implications; that means it’s defining. If it’s a debut, then it’s not just defining, it’s establishing a mission statement, a vision, and announcing to everyone right out of the gates who you want to be. In the case of Northern Diver, that’s not only the case, but it’s done with confidence and complete transparency.
The opening track of this 6-song self-titled EP sets the tone of the album. It displays Northern Diver as an intuitive songwriter who is absolutely not afraid of intimacy. In addition to vulnerable intimacy, Northern Diver is no stranger to texture, dynamics, or emotion. The opening track makes full use of ambient textures and sounds as a form and not just an aesthetic choice. Interweaving that many aspects of songwriting gives a glimpse of masterful and tasteful Northern Diver’s composition is. The form of ambience is used throughout the EP and never feels like a crutch, which is impressive to me.
Any time minimalism is used efficiently in any art form I can’t help but marvel at the accomplishment. Saying something profound and monumental with a few movements is something special. While the instrumentation is sometimes simple and minimal, it sometimes is extravagant incorporating strings, synths, programmed and real drums, electric bass and guitar, and effects that all serve a unique and specific purpose in the context of the song. Having a lot of components in a song but forcing them to only say what each of them needs to individually is how you accomplish this kind of efficient minimalism that Northern Diver does so excellently.
The other impressive thing about this EP for me was the way Northern Diver knows his own voice so well. On every song the vocals are used well within the confines of their abilities but are applied so specifically and intentionally it feels like each song was simultaneously written to be sang the way it was and was sang the way it was to serve the form and function of the song. Northern Diver’s self-titled debut EP is an excellent debut by any standard, but if you are looking for some ambient, minimal, explorative, intentionally written songs, look no further.