Remanence – Apparitions

Already released in 1999, but still a pleasure to listen to. Remanence, a project of Brain McWilliams and John Phipps, originally started its career under the name Arcana. For obvious reasons the name had to be changed. “Apparitions”, the debut cd of Remanence, was released by the English Cold Spring label. The visual presentation of the cd is very lovely. Nice transparent paper on the front & back. The booklet contains some interesting articles about experimental recordings.

The music of Remanence is also very tasteful. Nice delicate neo-classical/ambient music, with at times a few subtle bombastic pieces, but most of the time slow and atmospheric. Very nice is the combination of musical ingredients: of course many electronics, but also a lot of strings, piano, saxophone and other ‘real’ instruments. Added to this are samples, field and voice recordings. A strong point of the album is that there is a lot of versatility, without loosing a sense of unity. The mood is often melancholic and nostalgic, or solemn and majestic. Sometimes it sounds a bit ‘other-worldy’, which is not so strange as afterlife and ghosts phenomena seem to be amongst the subject matter, hence the title “Apparitions”.

The title track starts slow and rather experimental, before evolving in a fine classical composition.’The lack of permanence’ is a nice orchestral track with great strings, reminding me a lot of In the Nursery. ‘Now can I feel?’ is carried by choirs and piano/synthlayers. In ‘1st Wave’ a moody saxophone sets the tone. A very nice track is ‘be careful what I wish you for’. Sounds of thunder and rain and a very pleasant piano passage. Added are sampled voice recordings. A song with a lot of atmosphere, perhaps sounding a bit sad.

Another highlight is ‘Brutality’, which starts rather sinister and then gets very solemn through the sound of a church organ. ‘Where the shadows lie’ is probably the most bombastic track of the album, with militant snaredrums. I also like the warm ambient sounds of ‘3rd wave’, which builds further on the ‘1st Wave’ track. ‘Letters from home’ really evokes a feeling of nostalgia. I would have been a nice soundtrack to the BBC-film “Shooting the past” I just watched, about a historic photo collection that is threatened in its existence… The last song of the album, ‘Watched over by angels’, is a worthy majestic finale.

A fine debut, with a timeless sound that stays fresh after a few years.

artist: Remanence
label: Cold Spring
details: 13 tracks, 55 minutes