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Northern Air - Fifteenth Anniversary Expanded and Remastered Edition

by The Wretch

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it's not like i wanted to stay here it's not like i wanted to be alone sometimes i remember, i try to remember all the things i hated and the mouth is the same (as mine) and the eyes are the same (as mine) and the mind is the same (as mine) but it's not quite right (not this time) and the hallways they seem lit from far away (is it light or day) and the doorways are open to me(for the first time) doorways lead to hallways lead to tracks to salvation, nightime electric, body neglected. pathways and doorways and alleyways and all I see is all around me, passing reflections, failing intentions it's not that I don't want to be here it's just that I don't belong something in me remembers, always remembers all the things I loved it's not like i wanted to stay here it's not like i wanted to be alone sometimes i remember, i try to remember all the things i loved
Running 03:15
manifesto against love, locked away in a mind that carries 15 million poisons lost in my body, solitary walking running moving turning turning turning release I can't stop walking. the air is damp. I'm breathing it in, while it breathes me in. if I lie down the air can surround me. keep on running I'll leave everything. running through my blood in a vessel of weakness 15 million people faces facing forwards manifesto against love, locked away in a mind that carries 15 million poisons lost in my body, solitary walking running moving turning turning turning release I can't stop walking. the air is damp. I'm breathing it in, while it breathes me out if I lie down the air can surround me. keep on running I'll leave everything.
Lifetime 04:54
Velocity 03:48
Walking 05:04
Tracks 06:20
where do I end and the city begins taking paths towards memory feel it sinking falling into me feel it seething finding me take it out of me take it out of me take it out of me take this ecstasy signposts sing the sweetest song feeling like a place apart signposts leading to a mark leading back to where it starts take these eyes into your hands find the place where we fell a folded band a broken hand leading back to where I end
Northern Air 04:58
to the deficit we place on our incarceration walking on embers we deny the completion rented skies taken down by distant faces fences faces tracks to salvation frozen air replaces blood sodium vapour stairways, doorways, pathways nighttime electric stairways, doorways, pathways, body neglected
whispers, light fades and falls to gray within, nighttime crisp and moonlight falls on my face walking away pathways and passageways and all I say is that I'm here without my thoughts without my mind pathways and passageways, the light of dreams is waking me can you see I'm going blind lights move and flicker while I pass through streets looking towards nothing nothing left of what I kept inside nothing left of what I meant to hide everything is gone inside face fades, light fades and falls away within, thoughts lead to things gone past walking away, walking away, walking away pathways and passageways and all this time I left behind drained and torn and left to form can't you see this is my time can't you see this is my time can't you see this is my time can't you see I'm going blind
Sky 03:54
feeling the motion, face forward towards neverending echoes of likeness faces and places paces towards places where long ago sky turned to ocean, life turned to motion everything around me is falling sky fading from memory nothing but entropy passing the reflection, purge the infection wait for the waiting, wait for the waiting passing the reflection purge the infection take my reflection break the connection wait for the waiting, wait for the waiting reeling in motion, emotion through portals of light through echoes, faces in spaces paces and planes, waiting for the entrance feeling emotion, ocean to ocean everything around me is fading sky taking my memories sealed in entropy taking my reflection, breaking the connection waiting for the waiting, wait for the waiting everything around me is falling sky turning blue and grey, night to day try as I might I can't see the light waiting for the waiting
Closing 04:16
sounds are sentiment sentient and feeling permanance is fleeting but we find our time closing, never ending sounds are sentiment like shards of sediment collapsing in my veins collapsing in my veins between wires and cables, sights and sounds and nights I dreamt about you I dreamt about home I dreamt about all the things you said I dreamt about you and I want to go back there I thought of the place where we first met we're not the same anymore we're miles from home this is a closing moment a never ending final sound a feeling left no closure a life left wanting this is a neverending final moment of closure a final sound just for this moment just for this moment this is a closing a neverending final sound in this moment


Northern Air Remaster/Extended Reissue - Liner Notes

Northern Air began at the end of 2004 following on the success of Ambulatory. There was a lot of energy around the project;, people were enthusiastic about the music, and it seemed like it was really possible to take it to a new level.

The initial demos were all very much in the same vein as the Ambulatory sessions - adding new hardware synthesizers, effects, and guitars into the studio meant a constant state of exploration. Michael met Eric Schlappi in 2004 and immediately the sessions began to charge into more complex directions. Taking the original noisy experimental breakcore and industrial style of the first two albums, and mixing in many different influences, as well as guitar and other sound sources, songs began to form that were more diverse in their composition. And then it started to feel like a voice needed to be added.

Thematically, Eric and Michael shared a common kind of homesickness - (Eric would write his album “Music from the Desert to the City” shortly after we completed Northern Air). Northern air lyrically and thematically represented Michael’s sense of disconnection living in NYC, after spending much of his life in upstate NY. The idea of travel through doorways, passageways, and the disconnection from old friends and old ways of living were put on full focus lyrically.

Michael’s friends and collaborators at Phobic Films (Tim Zimmer and Jay Bender) fell in love with the title track and wrote a treatment to make a music video. Filmed in the winter in various locations around upstate NY, they passionately created a video that captured the nuanced themes of the album.

Following Michaels stint in the I, Parasite live band in 2004, Christopher Jon asked to distribute the album under his label DarkVisionMedia, so plans were made to do an official CD release. Formal printed inserts were made, discs were manufactured, and promotion was done all with the hope of taking The Wretch to a wider audience.

Some anecdotes about the tracks:

1. Doorways lead to hallways - this song began with an acoustic guitar riff that Michael had been playing since he was a teenager. Eric took it and ran with it, and played additional guitar parts to accompany, as well as an inspired melodica performance. Drums were made out of various sampled feedback and noise. Tons of ambient field recordings were used to layer and build up the atmosphere.

2. Running - An exercise in pure synthesis, using a Nord Modular G2, a Waldorf XTK, and a Yamaha FS1R to build a groove in 7 and turn it into violence. Guitar was added because Eric was a glutton for punishment with Michael acting as an obsessive editor constantly cutting and disassembling his recordings.

3. Lifetime - the last song written for the album, featuring slide guitar, a heavily distorted Juno 6 riff, and possibly Michaels favorite live keyboard solo recording of all time. Roland SH-09 through a Metasonix TX1 showcasing his “special” skills as a soloist.

4. Distant Faces - One of several songs formed out of productive sessions with an Elektron Monomachine and heavily edited via ½ speed tape transfers.

5. Velocity - This is the sound of the Elektron Sidstation in “native mode” - and the only song The Wretch has ever had spun in a DJ set in NYC.

6. Walking - an awkward and atmospheric song about walking under the subway tracks, with field recordings from the N train in Astoria

7. Tracks - One of the earliest pieces composed for the album, using the Monomachine, Machinedrum, and a Sherman Filterbank. Guest vocals by Tiffany Gentry.

8. Define where I end - foundation laid by Monomachine sequencing, and a sample from a Russian documentary about animal experimentation of a dog's heartbeat.

9. Nighttime Electricity - fun with field recordings and breakbeat trickery

10. Northern Air - the impetus for the entire album, recorded after significant demoing had been done but radically changed the course of the album. The piano was sampled from an old piano in the storage room of a pool hall in downtown Saratoga Springs. The drums were programmed using random freeware on a laptop on a train ride North. Guitar by Eric Schlappi, heavily edited. Vocals recorded through a Metasonix TX-1.

11. Pathways and Passageways - More Monomachine sequencing, accompanied by the full studio for orchestration.

12. Sky - This was pure guitar manipulation paired with synthesizer freakout sessions in collaboration with Eric Schlappi

13. Closing - The earliest instance of Michael’s utilization of 20 tracks of guitar in one session. This technique would become key to the next album.

14. For Clancy - Clancy was Michael’s beloved dog, who succumbed to a brain tumor. The day he found out, he wrote this song.

15. Running, Choking - Initial demo for the album, later abandoned

16. Asleep at the wheel - During the recording of the album, Michael acquired a Yamaha CS-15 and a spring reverb unit. This and Vacant Spaces were recorded during the first few days of having it, and are consistent with the space he was trying to carve for the album.

17. Vacant Spaces - See above

18. Stairways - Initial Demo for the album, abandoned

19. Alleyways - Originally expected to be track 3 but was replaced when Lifetime was written

20. Doorways lead to hallways - Acoustic - This version features the first take of vocals, with no drums and limited synthesizers in the mix.


released August 6, 2021

michael weeks: keys/guitar/vocals/lyrics/programming
eric schlappi: guitar on 2, 9, 11; melodica on 1; keys and programming on 1, 2, 5, 13
tiffany gentry: vocals on 7
christopher jon: additional drum programming on 7

recorded by michael weeks and eric schlappi at endmusik studios in Astoria NY from November of 2004-August of 2005.
mixed at endmusik studios by michael weeks and eric schlappi

Remastered by Robert Galbraith in 2021


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The Wretch New Jersey

The Wretch is a concept: something that has fallen short of the ideal. Be it human failing, mankinds failing, ideas created and tossed away, emotions left beneath the surface, all things have the potential to fall far short of their expected destiny.

The Wretch is Michael Weeks, also featuring Darren Halm, Eric Schlappi and a host of assorted guests.
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