Aperus: Hinterland

Bert Strolenberg, E-dition Magazine

"Hinterland" is an EP which contains 4 alternative versions of tracks which appeared on the formerly reviewed CD "tumbleweed obfuscated by camera failure" plus two unreleased tracks. Of course musically it doesn't differ much of what was on the original CD, as things stay overall atmospheric and rather intimate. Brian McWilliams aka Aperus says this special release served as a kind of musical artifact needed to be put down this way before he could move on in ambient music. As an extra, various photographs from Chaco Canyon (which was the core inspiration) are included on this very limited edition EP.

I can confirm that Hinterland is a strong CD-EP and a real joy to listen to. It's a real produced and proper addition to the full-length Tumbleweed-release... The additional photos make this release a must-have for all ambient fans... Nice stuff indeed.

by Richard Gurtler, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Except releasing three years ago a collaborative album "Ecotone" with James Johnson, one of the monumental pinnacles of 2013, Brian McWilliams, the driving force behind Aperus (and Remanence), was quite busy during the last few years with focusing on reissuing, remastering and repackaging older gems like "Tumbleweed Obfuscated By Camera Failure", reissued April 2013, and "Lamkhyer" as Remanence, which was resurrected during March 2015. "Hinterland", originally released in 2004 as a 5-track mini album, keeps on the path of this strategy. The 2004 edition was packaged in a slim jewel case featuring additional photographs taken from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, as data files. Personally, I have never been a big fan of slim jewel cases, without a spine, and I prefer much more physical visuals included within the release than those on my screen, so I have been very excited since the very beginning, when Brian has announced a reissue of "Hinterland". According to the extensive project updates via Brian's own Geophonic Records' blog, the reworking of "Hinterland" visuals and audio, was a quite in-depth task. Out since January 20th, 2016 as a pro CDr (duplicated at plant), I am now holding in my hands a truly gorgeous release packaged in 5" x 7" plastic sleeve with an attractive double sided gatefold cover and six 4" x 6" black & white photos taken by the artist at above mentioned Chaco Canyon. Undoubtedly, this is another collector's item from Geophonic Records (previously mPATH Records)!!! I should also mention that "Hinterland" features two additional guests on few tracks, John Phipps (who is a full member with Brian on Remanence project) and Carolyn Koebel. Although still as a mini-album, this edition is extended to 7 pieces and it gets over 36 minutes in length.

Remastered long version of "Magnetism" unfolds this inspiring journey with poetically lyrical piano soothingly backed by ethereal choir-like drones, while mesmerizingly rattling gossamer quietudes are counterpointed with nebulously ephemeral voice fragments. What a poignantly charged beauty!!! I keep in mind slightly shorter version of "Magnetism" on another stunningly packaged album, "Tumbleweed Obfuscated By Camera Failure" (released in 2003 and reissued 10 years later). Experimental mix of "Earth & Clay", as indicated by its title, incorporates an array of primordial-infused percussive elements coupled with bassline patterns and balmily encircling rattles (by Carolyn Koebel). Rather shorter, yet powerfully immersing venture into the sacred ancestral homelands of Pueblo people. Original version of "Echo Canyon" (remastered) delves deeply into warmly expansive and gracefully infinite drone sinuousness, enriched by assorted primal rumbles ranging from intangible to ear-tickling, remote groans and ambiguous breaths. Another exquisitely expressive composition precisely displayed by its name and meticulously bridging ancient enigmas with modern timbres. Additional keyboard and guitar credit goes to John Phipps, so kudos to both kindred spirits!!! Shorter "Kaskaskia Canyon", which appears in its remastered edition, invites the listener through its balsamic subterranean cacophony into magnificently sculpted hypogean sceneries. Remastered alternate version of "Vanishing Terrain", the longest piece on "Hinterland" clocking nearly to 12-minute mark, remains in breathtakingly cavernous realms, where warmly yearning washes insistently tide and delicately amalgamate with titillating clatters, wheezing tapestries and humming perplexes. All together meticulously carving the exuberant riches of these fascinating domains. A true sonic elixir!!! Demo version of the title track "Hinterland" leaves subterranean terrains and moves into tranquilly floating and serpentining soundfields carefully counterpointed with brightly tingling primordial percussions, while additional, more elusive tribal canvas are hanging above. The listener is guided through the vast areas of spectacularly eloquent desert solitudes, an infinite aural immersion awaits here!!! Shorter, reprised version of "All Good Things" closes this journey with slightly weirder batch of bass motifs, primal artifacts (Carolyn Koebel gets credit for rattles), synth helixes and crepuscular musings. When comparing to the version on "Tumbleweed Obfuscated By Camera Failure", this time the rumbling and metallic elements are less palpable. Still a very suitable outro!!!

"Hinterland" is another highly polished, re-evaluated and all-intensive journey through the ancient landscapes of the American Southwest, on which Brian McWilliams again brings its visual expression into absolute harmony with its aural authenticity. Don't miss this awe-inspiring exploration and tribute to the heritage of the Chacoan culture!!! I keep on repeating, to me, both projects, Aperus and Remanence, are some of the best kept secrets within prehistoric-driven ambient scene. "Hinterland" is a collector's dream!!! As mentioned by the artist, this release marks a clear line between the past and the future, so he can now focus on recording a new material. I will definitely keep an ear to the ground, because Brian McWilliams really deserves it!!!

Richard Gurtler (Apr 25, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

John Shanahan, Hypnagogue

Prior to receiving this CD in the mail, I was unfamiliar with the work of Aperus (secret identity: Brian McWilliams). Having experienced his music, I fully intend to rectify that as soon as possible. Listening to these five cuts, culled from alternate takes and portions of songs from his full length CD, "tumbleweed obfuscated by camera failure", has a simply narcotic effect--knowing what it's like leaves the listener needing more.

"Magnetism" opens the CD with uncomplicated piano melody and minimal electronic dressing,a piece lovely in its simplicity. We often talk about influences and cross-influences in ambient music; this is like genetically splicing George Winston and Brian Eno. It stands in nice contrast to the starker, percussion-driven tribalism of "Earth & Clay" and "Echo Canyon." The first rides in on a funky bass groove, while the latter slips into pure slow ambience with faint drums receding like night before dawn. The closing track, "Vanishing Terrain," pulls many of the elements of the other tracks together in a brooding, breathing piece that firmly underscores the idea that, yes, you need more Aperus.

There's only one mis-step here: "Kaskaskia Canyon." A solely atmospheric piece based on the sound of water dripping in a cave, it unfortunately (to these ears) sounded like it was recorded in a men's room...if you know what I'm saying.

All in all, hinterland is either a fine introduction to the music of Aperus or a welcome addition to your Brian McWilliams/Remanence collection.