North Sea Radio Orchestra – I A Moon

What a gem!

They are “North Sea Radio Orchestra”, a British chamber ensemble who has been together for some years, though I admit this is my first experience with them. What experience I am talking about? Well, this 2011 release entitled “I A Moon”, an album whose music is pretty different from one has been listening recently, I mean, here we will find an exquisite blend of chamber music with folk, giving as a result this progressive rock album that has pleased me since the very first time I listened to it. The album contains 10 songs that make a total time of 45 minutes.

It opens with “Morpheus Miracle Maker”, a beautiful melody that since the first moments shares charm, a delicate sound easy to love. The voice of Sharron Fontham is splendid, it perfectly complements the soft and gentle music created by acoustic guitar along with bassoon, violin, viola and percussion. What a wonderful opener track. A couple of short pieces come next, first with “I A Moon”, where the vocals accompany a soft organ and percussion, later guitar joins and create a pastoral, folk and really loveable sound. They remind me a bit of some Phillip Glass’ works. And the second short track is “Guitar Miniature #3″, in which as the title suggest, we can listen to a short acoustic guitar piece made by Craig Fontham.

The longest composition is “Heavy Weather” in which Craig’s voice is now the lead one, it is stunningly complemented by the whole ensemble’s instruments, here we can listen to a delicate piano, a disarming violin, great percussion, and a great bassoon. In the second half of the song it changes, now Sharron’s voice is there, working together with piano and violin, creating a beautiful atmosphere in a folk and neo-classical background. After five minutes they build up a more emotional structure, where there is a repetition of words and sound that create an addiction, later the music slows down and it delicately finishes.

“Berliner Luft” starts softly with a Canterbury-like sound, later it changes a little bit where acoustic guitar and percussion joins. The mood here is really passive and joyful, one can easily have a smile while listening to this. I really love how strings, percussion and winds work perfectly together. “Morpheus Drone” is a violin lead track where Brian Wright shows his skills, creating a wonderful atmosphere and a kind of mid-east flavor.

That song leads to “The Earth Beneath Our Feet” in which the violin continues but now with a more disarming sound, after half a minute guitar and viola join and begin to create a new passage with a new atmosphere. A minute later the female voice appears with that special and beautiful sound; the music reminds me a bit of some Karda Estra moments but here with a folkish tendency. “Ring Moonlets” has a smooth and delicate sound, it is a short instrumental track with nice strings and a beautiful background made by organ.

“When things fall apart” continues with the soft and delicate music, full of nuances and textures produced by a great piano, strings and the female voice. It is an adorable piece that will put you very emotional if you allow it. “Mitte der Welt” finishes the album in a wonderful way, this is a repetitive piece with a joyful mood and a vast quantity of colors and elements (better perceived with good headphones). This closing track sums up what North Sea Radio Orchestra’s music is about, and believe me, I am very happy.

What a fantastic album is this, I fell lucky of having it and play it every once in a while, I strongly recommend it for any progressive rock fan in general, but more specific for those who want some folk/avant-garde like this. My grade will be four stars.

Enjoy it!


1. Morpheus Miracle Maker (5:20)
2. I a moon (2:22)
3. Guitar Miniature #3 (1:43)
4. Heavy Weather (8:07)
5. Berliner Luft (6:11)
6. Morpheus Drone (2:22)
7. The Earth Beneath Our Feet (5:31)
8. Ring Moonlets (3:16)
9. When Things Fall Apart (4:33)
10. Mitte der Welt (6:10)


* Nicola Baigent – clarinet, bass clarinet
* Luke Crooks – bassoon
* Ben Davies – piano, organ
* Harry Escott – cello
* Craig Fortnam – guitar, voice, organ, percussion
* Sharron Fortnam – lead voice
* James Larcombe – monosynth, organ, hurdy gurdy
* Dug Parker – voice
* Hugh Wilkinson – percussion
* Brian Wright – violin, viola

Guest musicians:

* Matt Shmigelsky – extra bells
* Sarah Cutts – backing vocals on track 1
* Jo Spratley – backing vocals on track 1

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