Remanence: A Strange Constellation of Events

by Rik MacLean, Sonic Curiosity

This CD from 2005 offers 63 minutes of pensive ambience.

Remanence is: John Phipps and Brian McWilliams, with Michelle McWilliams on recorder, and Carolyn Koebel on bowed gong, cymbals and ocean harp.

This music fuses technology with nature, blending deeply artificial textures with environmental samples. Radio signals drift alongside thunderheads of delicate tonalities, while insects and birds contribute their voices on the periphery of perception. The result is a gripping evocation of mankind and divinity, operating in conjunction to achieve a distinctly modern totality.

Flows of tenuous sound seep into being, oozing from silence into a delicate proximity that envelopes the listener with a sedate fog of pleasant resonance. Augmented by shakers, muffled beats creep into the mix, adopting a remote quality that would be tribal if not for their definite cerebral mien. Pulsations of an electronic character rise, breathing and shuddering to create a luscious expanse of seemingly limitless scope.

Effectively separated from reality in this manner, the audience is treated to mesmerizing atmospherics that delve deep into the psyche, tickling long-ignored synapses of relaxation. Stress melts away, swallowed by the power of these minimal passages.

Although keyboards play a vital role in this music, their presence is well-hidden by the manner in which they express themselves. Lavish chords are elongated and hang like phosphorescent mists overhead, providing a hypnotic environment for subtle flashes of understated electronics which cavort lazily like torpid fireflies.