Published Jan 01, 2006Creating a rich, dreamy guitar pop album can be a tall order, but clearly not for Hamilton's A Northern Chorus. A triumphant follow-up to their self-produced debut, Sprit Flags has a clear sense of space, and the songs possess a genuine, atmospheric quality. With layers of sounds, including strings and flute, space is important not only in the conceptual phase, but also in the recording process. As guitarist and singer Pete Hall describes it, "With our music it's all about playing in the right places. Our first record has a very full sound through the whole album. We didn't leave a lot of room for those songs to breath. I think Spirit Flags is a much more dynamic sounding album. There's more space for the melodies to be heard. The fact that we recorded the songs live definitely captured that feeling."
Recording in a rural 18th century mansion studio certainly helped. The end result seems to reflect the beauty, size and isolation of Canada's natural landscape itself. "Lyrically, being somewhere outdoors with no one around really helps clear the mind," explains Hall. "The words do have a theme of loneliness and isolation, but in a way that's hopeful. I think the entire album has that sort of theme. It's like a moment of weakness that makes you stronger or helps you to realise something you may have overlooked."
Stuart Livingstone, also handling guitar and vocals, adds, "The songs themselves are external portrayals of internal landscapes; memories, dreams, or metaphorical imagery. Perhaps, on some level, our thought process is somehow reminiscent of the Canadian terrain; peaceful plains of meditation that explode into spiritual uproar as you get further and further away from home. A lot of the lyrics are asking the listener to realise what they have, capture and define their own spirit, then let it soar in the breeze with collected confidence."