I’m becoming quite fond of The Kora Records. With only about a dozen releases under their belt, they’ve already established themselves as a powerfully unique label with an eye for great talent. They’ve released phenomenal records by The LK (bringing the Swedish duo over to the US release of their debut LP), a few by Meredith Bragg, and the amazing Gregor Samsa.
Like the Meredith Bragg and Gregor Samsa acts, The Widespread Reign Of… by The Great Northwest sides on the softer side of music. Where Bragg fits folk and Samsa is a bit more chamber-y and orchestrated, The Great Northwest fits a space-y, drone-y, folk-pop mold.
There are elements of experimentation here; just listen to the transition from masterpieces “Reverie” into “The Key”. While the former is a bit more single worthy (it found a welcome home on The Kora Records Compilation Vol. 1), the latter is superior due to its sheer uniqueness. Transitions occur between songs frequently on The Widespread Reign Of, just falling short of making it a concept album.
True to the nature of the space- and drone-ridden tune, virtually all The Great Northwest’s songs are lengthy and drawn out. “Western American” certainly fits this, at near 7 minutes, while virtually all also include the aforementioned experimental nature. Those that are short tend to be more an intermission than anything else. So, with The Widespread Reign Of…, The Kora Records does it once again: they’ve discovered and released a great album by a great band. For them, greatness always ensues.
This review was originally published July 29, 2008 on the old version of FensePost.
The Great Northwest: Chief John [mp3]
[audio:090704_the_great_northwest_-_chief_john.mp3|titles=Chief John|artists=The Great Northwest]
The Kora Records [CD, 2008]
2. Chief John
4. The Key
5. Western American
6. Know What I Mean
7. What I Want
8. Ready Or Not
10. Be Coming
12. Did It Once
13. Surprise I Love You