[sic] Magazine

The Arctic Flow – The Luminous Veil EP

The Arctic Flow describe themselves as “one boy on the beach, flying his kite in the summer breeze”. I find that nicely evocative. The boy in question is Brian Hancheck, the mainstay of The Arctic Flow. I’m tempted to call them (him) The Arctic Throwback as theirs is a nostalgia tinged glance back to the late 80s UK indie scene of C86, Sarah and Creation labels.

Hancheck considers his music to be dream-pop and I wouldn’t disagree. Indeed there’s a natural link between today’s dream-pop and the original shoegazing movement, which itself mutated out of C86. A picture already begins to form. The Arctic Flow create gentle, pretty music. They are even a little bit fey. They’re also a little bit good. ‘Daffodils’ is the ispo facto ‘lead ‘track on the EP and rightfully so. ‘Daffodils’ has the air of The Radio Dept or Mary Onettes, only with spangly Xymox guitars and an earworm chorus. ‘When We Were Something’ is reminiscent of ‘I Can’t Live (If Living Is Without You)’ albeit wrapped in Christmassy keys. Not for the first time this Luminous Veil EP reminds me of Baltimore dreampop act Should.

Overall Luminous Veil is a pleasant listening experience albeit coming in entirely the wrong season. The gentle warmth of the production and the fresh singalong melodies belong to springtime if not summer. They are, however a winning combination. I had issues with the review promo, which is a mini disc that my computer setup cannot handle. My hi-fi can, but that imprisons me in the wrong room, at least for writing. Add to this the fact that for many of the early batch of CDs the spacing had also failed leaving the EP to show as one continuous track (a pet hate of mine, which is ironic given my preference to play promos from start to finish and not dip/shuffle). Fear not, the issue has already been remedied by Oscarson who even give away mp3 download codes with each copy. All of which segues nicely to Oscarson themselves.

The attentive amongst you will have already clocked past reviews of Kepler, and Aerial. If so you would have noted the lavish praise for this label’s packaging ethic. Everything is handmade, numbered limited editions, fine inlay cards…. Wonderfully tactile objects that logic tells us have nothing whatsoever to do with the music. Well, since when did logic have anything to do with music?

These songs are the sound of feelings, feelings of musicians steeped in their knowledge of indie music. Like Factory, 4AD, and Rough Trade before, the label aesthetic was part of the charm even part of the whole point. Handling the object before playing is akin to pouring a glass of fine wine, holding it up to the light and then savouring its aroma. Mmmm, what’s that? A hint of cassis? Maybe some vanilla? YOU HAVEN’T EVEN TASTED IT YET. But you want to. Oscarson releases are as fine wines compared to the generic house wines of other labels.

Anticipation, dear reader. Anticipation. I think collectors will start looking seriously at Oscarson if they haven’t already. Get in there early.