The Safety Of The North
The Safety Of The North quickly sheds its conceptual baggage, winning you over with its clearly defined emotional poise and all-round compositional elegance. This third Last Days album is quite an achievement and surely one of the very finest things the n5MD label has released in some time. Highly recommended.
As this quite marvelous journey reaches its pinnacle it struck me how much I had invested in this record, from its hopeful beginnings, to the apprehension I felt when things didn't seem right, through to the overall empathy or hope I felt towards Alice. This is clearly down to the strength of Richardson's writing, an ability that has the listener wrapped in the intricacies of his ‘script' much like that of a film.
It's difficult not to connect with The Safety of the North; it truly is. In one way it's a huge helping of snowblind delight, cubes of brilliance flashing the way Ulrich Schnauss used to. In others, it's something more perilous: a wide, rumbling desert becomes submarine beauty
On one of the albums most charming and effective pieces, "Thoughts of Alice", Neamh Rose Breen's child-like spoken-word gambit, set against a solemn organ refrain and cool atmospherics, lends the piece a portentous feel. Its promises are made good through the remaining pieces, a series of elaborations and extensions on these unresolved sentiments, which make this Richardson's most accomplished work yet.
The sixty-five-minute collection merges field recordings, vocal elements, acoustic instruments, and electronics into a narrative whole that's never less than engaging and often powerfully affecting in its humanistic character.
San Francisco Bay Guardian
...Further trials and pitfalls appear deeper into the disc, but The Safety Of The North ends with a particularly gorgeous -- and rather optimistic -- touch with “Onwards.” Opening with the gurgles of a rushing stream and the call-and-response of countless birds, the track carefully, incrementally adds layers of synth, xylophone, and guitars to a pulsing martial beat--- soon enough strings and horns (or, I'm guessing from the liner notes, an impressive electronic imitation thereof) join the crashing, cascading mix. Misty-eyed majesty, certainly, and a potent end-note for Richardson.
These Places Are Now Ruins
The Irish Times
An album that rewards with repeat listenings, These Places Are Now Ruins is a beautiful achievement. Highly recommended.
Last Days is a quickly rising star who's likely delivered n5md's top album of the year and given himself plenty of room for future growth. This is an exciting time for Mr. Richardson.
Angryape (now called omgmusic)
In the end, as the plaintive "Traveling Heart" draws to a close, what we are left with is the perfect sequel to "Sea". A release where Deaf Center's cinematic qualities are channeled through Jasper TX's lo-fi sensibility. "These Place Are Now Ruins" is simply an enthralling piece of work.
These Places Are Now Ruins includes numerous lovely moments, such as the blurry string-drenched overture “Station,” which finds Richardson gravitating towards Eluvium territory, and “Saved by a Helicopter,” a pretty interlude of untreated piano. A stormy mass of clatter, haze, and sirens blows the background of “Reasons to Go” but not so loudly that it overwhelms its lilting piano and glockenspiel melodies and acoustic guitar arpeggios.
Yet the overriding impression is one of optimism. Last days can only give way to new beginnings. So it is that Sea represents neither death nor doom but rather change. And since change is the only constant in our entire lives, it could therefore follow that Sea just might become the soundtrack of our existence.
Sad, yes, depressing, not quite, but certainly emotionally charged, Sea is brought to fruition with an honesty and deftness of touch that will certainly leave its mark on you if you allow it. A fine record - the sort that can bring new respect to a label.
Sea is an excellent debut piece by a talented young artist. The album's name, Sea, mirrors the style Richardson employs. A dreamlike, gentle, yet undeniably powerful, sound forever moving and reforming. Richardson utilises both the electronic and acoustic, blending them seamlessly into a rich audio scenario. Sea is an album full of emotion, full of beauty, full of darkness. Sea is an album that is as stark as it is rich, it is Richardson's manipulation of this disparity that makes his debut LP such an intoxicated suspension of sound.
“Mountains” even incorporates sounds of a desperate SOS pattern being tapped out via Morse code at one point, as heavily treated piano chords take on a submerging degree of reverb.
Indeed, on this center section of Sea, Richardson succeeds brilliantly in forging an atmosphere that’s equal parts foreboding and pleasurably solipsistic. Perhaps most importantly, there’s always the promise of a happy ending lying in wait for those left feeling a little too emotionally bereft by the works of constrained intensity that precede it.
There's plenty to get stuck into here and I suspect fans of Deaf Center, Stars of the Lid, Mountains or Eluvium would find bags of goodness here to sink their teeth into. The genre might be expanding rapidly now, but there's always room for more treats, especially when they're this well produced. Delicate and warming - a real treat.