Apse : Spirit
This is the debut release by Cape Cod's Apse, originally released on Acuarela Discos in 2006. In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered by a hemispherical vault, most often referenced in the context of Christian churches. It is a piece of construction that denotes an altar, a sanctuary. Spirit aspires to a similar state. Less an album than one long song cut into pieces, its one hour duration consists of patterns and colors and shapes. The closest thing to a "single" is the dramatic 7-minute composition "Legions," a particularly concentrated example of the group's shimmering melodies and otherworldly rhythmic spells. Throughout the album, however, the key elements remain consistent -- helium voices emerge and stay wordless, sounding like a preacher speaking in tongues. The music sculpts ornate shapes, then breaks down into an ethereal mist, or ramps up into an extended freakout. Moments of grace and ambience cohere into something greater. A list of predecessors with analogous goals might include the Krautrock innovators Neu!, Iceland's Sigur R¢s, the Midwestern modernists Tortoise, the bucolic electronica duo Boards Of Canada, or the tribal experimentalists Animal Collective and Liars. All of these groups have occasionally been lumped into the genre post-rock. Apse, however, may be the first known exponent of this style to encapsulate a particular brand of Northeastern melancholy. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Robert Toher formed Apse 9 years ago in that hotbed of musical activity Newtown, Connecticut. The rest of the band -- Michael Gundlach, John Mordecai, Jed Armour, Brandon Collins, Aaron Piccirillo -- has accreted over the years. In recent years, they have developed an ardent fan base in Europe where live performances have taken on a great intensity. When listening to Apse's music, you'll recall groups of old, but moreover, you will be reminded of New England's weather and history -- a specific geographical consciousness that inspired both the artistic community of Provincetown and the hardy Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock. Cold winds and long nights. Rolling clouds, forbidding beaches, summer swells, etc. Spirit sounds like a dramatic reaction to endless days trapped inside, and bears the markers of a band with the time and space to follow their weird vision to its logical conclusions.
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