Aperus: Tumbleweed Obfuscated by Camera Failure

by Hans Dinkelberg, Funprox

People who follow this website a bit may have encountered the name 'Remanence' now and then. This American duo creates contemplative ambient music of high quality, with a lot of ear and eye for details. I'm fond of their rather neo-classical album "Apparitions" (label: Cold Spring) and their more ethno-ambient, self-released mini cd "Lamkhyer". As I hoped for (and expected), this high standard also applies to the first solo offering by Remanence member Brian McWilliams. Under the name Aperus he has created a moving album full of tranquil ambient tapestries. This album was "inspired by the obscured photographs resulting from camera problems during a trip to New Mexico".

"Tumbleweed Obfuscated by Camera Failure" comes in a nice dvd-case, which holds not only the cd, but also a series of photo prints, of a barren landscape blurred by strange and unplanned photographic effects due to camera trouble. This resulted nevertheless in interesting images, and a similar effect is the case with the compositions on this album, as is explained in the accompanying notes: "From concept to song, I tried to achieve one result but ended up with another."

The compositions flow very subtle and serene, almost angelic. There are no sudden turns, sharp edges or heavy rhythmic elements. Still it manages to keep my attention, probably through the emotional intensity. It avoids the danger of being trapped in the easy new age path. The music is bleak, a little bare at times, but not too sad or dark, just slightly melancholic.

'Magnetism' is very lovely. Delicate piano, tranquil compositions and soft choirs in the background make you slowly drift away. 'Earth & Clay' has more rhythmic elements and a more ethnic feel. For this song various field recordings of organic sound sources are used, taking you [ to ] the rocks and plants where McWilliams found his inspiration for this release. 'Echo Canyon' then again sounds very barren and empty, giving you the impression that you are the only living creature in a gigantic rock structure. 'Vanishing Terrain is a long bleak industrial soundscape, giving me a cold feeling. Luckily the slowly evolving and more melodic 'All good things' lifts my spirits a bit.

In conclusion, this is a very worthwhile ambient album, making you feel relaxed and close to nature. It gives faith in the abilities of human creativity, which both consciously and unconsciously can lead to fine things. You also do realise that you can feel very humble next to [ the ] overwhelming manifestations of nature.