by Ken Wronkiewicz, Gearheads
A mysterious album. It is difficult to classify Remanence as any specific genre of music. Filled with synthesizers, classical instruments, acoustic and bowed guitars, and tape treatments, Remanence could best be called experimental instrumental music, mostly because experimental is such a wide category to begin with.
Brian McWilliams and John Phipps comprise the major instrumental and creative center of the band. Aided by three other instrumentalists, they produce an atmospheric album that still manages to grab your attention without vocals or a major instrumental hook. Some songs create a definite texturing effect while others are less subtle. As a whole, the differences in songs over the entire album work with each other, like acts in a play.
Remanence are also fascinated with the supernatural. The liner notes consist of pages and diagrams copied out of books on supernatural activities. The cover sets the mood. Underneath the ricepaper cover, there is a picture of a translucent form descending a staircase.
Of the thirteen songs on the album, three stand out as being the most memorable. The Lack of Performance is almost a marching song. Its groove is driving and powerful. Violence in Chinatown features an oriental beat matched with weird synthesizer sounds. Finally, Where the Shadows Lie reprises the military beat in The Lack of Performance with a completely different song.
The music has no vocals, however, elevator music this is not. Almost an hour of music is on Apparitions and each song is an individual creation. Each song is complex and multifaceted. Truly, like the liner notes warn, "Some unexplained sounds may reveal themselves after repeated listenings."
My recommendation? A wonderfully subtle collection of music. This album is great for sitting in an easy chair with a book.