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Topics - Ben F-S

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Following a series of CD-R releases beginning in 2006, the husband and wife team of Robert and Amy Brown put out their first formal album release via Silber Records in late 2008, The Distance Brings Us Closer, also featuring guest performer Ben Fleury-Steiner. Northern Valentine's music comes from a now very familiar space -- open-ended electronic and guitar textures pitched halfway between contemplative ambience and understated melodies, and to say that The Distance Brings Us Closer would appeal to fans of nearly anything on Kranky Records, for instance, would be an understatement. But if Northern Valentine works in known ground at this point, they still do so with an atmospheric power and grace. Perhaps their strongest knack is for how well they gently disguise the core hooks without letting them get lost completely -- the cyclical rise and fall of the main melody in "Born Yesterday," shimmers through layers of echo and background texture, might be the most breathtaking moment on the album. Other moments like the sudden appearance of a clear piano part on "Dimanche" cutting through the meditative flow of the song further demonstrate the group's abilities. If Northern Valentine are still working towards finding their best sound, they have strong bases to build on.

~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide

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