'His music owes a great deal to his background as a classically trained pianist, which throughout the course of Alterations, he happily augments with not only elements of pop, but indie rock as well. Those combinations, along with the complex arrangements and sharp songwriting make it tempting to fall back on the convenient hyphenate of baroque pop as a cheap way of summing the album up; to do so would be to marginalize not only the broad range of the music itself, but its grand ambition as well... There really isn't a bad moment on Alterations, Northfield is an excellent composer with a firm grasp on what he wants to accomplish.'
'His way with words is at once poignant and cryptic, sharp and vague, storybookish and metaphysical but always humorous, delivered with a twinkle in the eye just waiting for you to get the joke or at the very least recognise your own life in the situations he describes... an album of continued surprises.'
'Personally the first half takes the honours the way Alterations is laid out, but listened to as a series of singles as suggested the album and songs work even better and with a more fluid charm. The album is excellent and the more one plays with it the more it endears itself...'
'An album that truly defies classification or definition... a bewitching perhaps eccentric ten track epic quite unlike no other, full of drama, spills and thrills. Mark Northfield is a maverick genius that the open-minded among you should hold in great admiration for creating such a daring and inventive release.'
'...this is a highly listenable and most importantly 'different' album'
'Ever wondered what a Sondheim musical from his darker years would sound like if it was recorded by an indie pianist and some buds? Well, wait no longer!... Ascendant features some terrific vocal performances from a variety of singers and some marvelously crafted tunes, with arguably the most beautiful of the year in "Zero."'
ADAM DOWNER - SPUTNIK STAFF REVIEWER (Featured in Adam's Top 20 of 2008 and Top 100 of the decade.)
'A great deal of care has gone into its preparation and that is perhaps its best quality. It has all that subtlety that you only begin to appreciate when you listen to it again and there is its true value. It is like a Tim Burton movie for the ears - quirky, detailed, immaculately produced...'
'The Calm... a neo-classical exploration of melancholy bursting into expressions of beauty and stillness with an Anglican Church choir bent. This is the highlight of the CD and one of the most hauntingly beautiful choral pieces I've heard in some time... Ascendant is a very strong listening experience. This one's for fans of Chamber music, The Cure, The Smiths and any other melancholic pop band of the last twenty years.' 4/5
'Mark's dreamy piano-based music has a tinge of theatricality to it in the same vein as XTC. It flutters between Beatles-grade melody and esoteric dissonance. It introduces choir-like vocals or string ensembles without warning before just as easily returning to unnervingly intimate whispering vocals and beautifully played piano passages...'
'It's an intelligent and literate album, but accessible too. I'd recommend it to fans of neo-classical acts like Max Richter and Clogs, but also to open-minded aficionados of torch songs and even stage musicals. It's an album that straddles genres, but seems to suffer no discomfort in doing so. A fine debut.'
'...even though it uses the most traditional of styles, you're left feeling like you've heard something dramatic and original. 'Ascendant' is, in turns, loving, clever, surprising and just plain weird. But it's always worth a listen. Punk has long become part of the mainstream, so maybe now it takes a Stradivarius to do something different.'
'In all, this is an album that achieves what it sets out to do in uniting seemingly disparate styles, effectively highlighting the emotion in the lyrics with a poignant musical backdrop.'
13/16 BILL NOLAND / PROGRESSION MAGAZINE