PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Norton: Kersche

Norton is a Portuguese electro-pop group in the mould of Postal Service, but they've got something to say in their own right.



Label: self-released
US Release Date: 2007-04-02
UK Release Date: 2007-04-02

Norton are a group of four guys from Castelo Branco, in Portugal. They sing in English, and all four of them play synths, which might give a clue to the type of glacial, melodic electronica that the group makes. They'll make you think of Postal Service and the Icelandic group Mum, and sometimes something closer to straight rock. But this leisurely music never thrusts itself onto you -- it might take some patience, but Norton are generally deserving of the attention.

Kersche is, according to Norton, a made-up word, presumably meant to evoke some truth towards which the group approached some late night of rehearsing and whatever else musicians do to approach truth. But doesn't it just sound like "cherry" in German? The self-importance of the thing might be a little difficult to swallow -- the press materials: "it seems that this record is all about arguing a current principle" -- if the music wasn’t generally so subtly likeable. So, the "current principle", at least from what we can gauge from the band's writing, is that albums ain't albums any more, that people don't bother to listen to them all the way through, that in the age of digital downloads and music blogs we may even have lost some way of relating with music itself.

In any case, the band's second album, though it's assured enough to herald an extended career, doesn't quite have the coherence to sustain such an academic argument. As mentioned above, patience is certainly needed for these slow, atmospheric pieces: sometimes you're led to wonder if there's a lack of direction, as with "Sailing Across a Distant Sea". At their best, as on "Sill Stays On", the group sets up a pleasant, aquatic pulsation, using denser instrumentation to propel the song forward. It has the chug of a driving song, even without "The District Sleeps Tonight" or the mystic revelation of "Star Alfur". "Cinnamon and Wine", one of the standout tracks, employs more tinny synths to straddle the grey zone between pop and electronica, slowly transforming to 4/4 rock by the end. Throughout this and most of the other songs, changes in tempo and atmosphere are accrued so minimally that you're hardly aware of the changing until the endpoint's reached.

So, this atmospheric stuff works fine. A few of the experiments are less successful. "Frames of Yourself", a more straightforward dance track, clicks along at a nice rate but the "I want you"s and the "So come on"s don't have the energy necessary to energize a floor. Somehow the forlorn seems to work better for Norton. "Spherical Hearts" has a different problem: with the melody of the verses and chorus set too close together, the song's not differentiated enough, and all washes together.

It's great Kersche is getting a release here, because despite the flaws, the group's found a source of gentle and gently-evolving beauty. And for a young band that's only been around for a few years it's reassuring to hear the confidence here to create music that doesn't proffer itself fully on first listen. Forget the over-serious and over-important verbiage: it's the modest complexity of the music that supports Kersche on its own merits.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.