archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003 …..
NANOOK OF THE NORTH
THE TABY TAPES
(Best Kept Secret)
Named after the famous landmark anthropological film made by Robert Flaherty in 1922, which captured the plight of Nanook an Inuit hunter trying to provide for his family amid the Artic extremes of the Hudson Bay. The plight of the Artic dwellers has never really featured greatly in pop music over the years, you’d have to trawl back to the Residents formidable album ‘Eskimos’ to perhaps have the final word. Mind you all that’s a matter of conjecture where Nanook of the North are concerned.
‘The Taby Tapes’ concerns itself in love, peace and solutions to the world’s ills, and it’s a gracious adventure captured across twelve tracks clocking in at a brief 30 odd minutes. Obscuring their melodies with a shy tenderness, Nanook of the North play exquisite variants of Celtic folk accompanied by the atmospheric additives of theremins, stylophones, moogs and brass arrangements. ‘Karin Boyes Grave’ strangely absorbs a mystical charm, so sweetly feint tiny spacey swirls waltz affectionately around the bitter sweet harmonies, it’s like the Carpenters meeting Donny and Maria head on at a love in. ‘Spare parts (Israel vs Palestine; a solution)’ temptingly courts with the Waterboys covering the Go Betweens back catalogue with traces of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’ chasing the prey. Best moment though is the elegantly pained ‘Nanook’s Ark’ which pinpoints the essence of classic Prefab Sprout at McAloon’s most brutally open, the romantic interplay of the male / female vocals caress the Christmas like symphonies happily fan-faring beneath. ‘Phonecall’ lifts elements of ‘Grocer Jack’ and works them into their delightful twee core to amazing effect.
‘Hey Fragile’ I could play all night, if only for the dreamy slide guitar which always works wonders here, airy dynamics pepper this tasty morsel which sometimes sounds like it was recorded underwater, did anyone say Deacon Blue, you could be right. ‘Where will you go?’ dips in for a spot of Eastern mysticism courtesy of the Beatles ‘Within you without you’ while incorporating a macabre like suspense themology that every now and again flitters to magically fluffy orchestrations that leave you breathless. Romantically tender, lovers of the Prefabs, Go Betweens, Deacon Blue and the Dream Academy will swoon.