Northwest Passage's New Era

BY Vish KhannaPublished Mar 24, 2008

With his judicious balance of organic instrumentation and computer-generated ambience, Pascal Asselin has written a compelling Millimetrik album with Northwest Passage’s New Era. Bolstered by a healthy interest in hip-hop and moody electronica, the Quebec City-based Millimetrik has an artful ability to pace his material, edging into a hearty beat or melodic hook only after alluring build-ups set the stage. Something like "Sournoise Supercherie” might not be as edgy but still has DJ Shadow’s fingerprints all over it, though things get grittier by "Le Libraire Obscur Du Mont D'Iberville,” which recalls the stark spookiness of the RZA. There’s gorgeous interplay between hard beats and a dreamy, cinematic pastiche of strings and incidental noise on songs like "En Mémoire de Terror et Erebus” and "The Owls are Watching Us,” as Asselin again marries a spacey trance vibe with hipster funk. Though treading in the realm of cool, swanky bar-background music, Millimetrik fights for and earns attention with this admirable disc.

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