Remanence: A Strange Constellation of Events

by Dene Bebbington, Melliflua

The latest release by duo Brian McWilliams and John Phipps -- aka Remanence -- is an album of the night for the night. A Strange Constellation of Events is an ambient meditation on night and the idea of synchronicity where coincidental events have meaning. The disc comes in a CD sized but DVD style case and contains a sheet of interesting notes about synchronicity and some small postcards containing relevant quotes and suggestions for further reading.

Getting the album underway is the longest track "Signal Hill". Bleeping Morse code and distant muted static are heard before eerie washes and amorphous explosive rumbles come in. There's an uneasy demeanour to the piece at this point which gets offset a little further in as dimly luminous washes pan across the soundscape along with darker resonating scans. It's as though we're following radio waves across the face of the Earth and off into the depths of space.

In the third track "Lamkhyer (remix)" the gentle hum of insect noises carried over from the previous track slowly give way to brief ominous drones and a brushy percussive beat that develops into further rhythm with wood like drum beats. This nicely poised piece is akin to a less tribal Roachian number mixing rhythms with resonating drones.

Though there are occasional rhythmic elements in subsequent tracks most of the music is rooted in dark ambient territory. A particularly spooky piece is the relatively quiet "Nocturne". Here the sound of distant rustling combines with a variety of effects, it's like the kind of music to a scarey film where someone is walking through dark woods not sure of what's out there. Gong hits and metallic whistling drones also add to the sense of unease.

Without a doubt A Strange Constellation of Events is a beguiling ambient excursion into nighttime related themes. It's ideal listening for a winter evening when you're settled in at home and want to wander mentally between what's in the outside world and what's in your imagination.