Remanence: Apparitions

Kansai Time Out (KTO)

Otherwordly is a word that describes well the ethereal atmospheres created by Remanence on their stunning debut CD 'apparitions'. The eye-catching cover of the CD does not misrepresent its contents. Muted tones of grey and sepia envelope images totally in tune with the sound of the album. Even more impressive is the fact that the musicians themselves designed this beautiful sleeve, a work that revolutionary ex-23 Envelope designer and video director Nigel Grierson would be proud of.

Although the sound of the album touches base in the middle-period 4AD camp, paying homage to the original instrumentals of both This Mortal Coil and the 'Medusa' album by Clan of Xymox, it never plunders those ideas and is essentially a startlingly original work. Most of the pieces are instrumentals, although some use seemingly "found" voices that whisper through the textures like ghosts from a world beyond the walls. This appears to be less than a coincidence upon reading the liner notes of the booklet, as Remanence multi-instrumentalists Brian McWilliams and John Phipps have more than a passing interest in the paranormal.

Many of the pieces suggest a longing that is both ominous and comforting but never melancholic. One has the feeling that other forces are at work in this music, as it both pulls on the heart strings and plays with the mind's tendency for nostalgia and reflection, 'The Hurt Heals Slow' being the most obvious example with its filmic use of sparse piano and the voice of a nonchalantly weary speaker. 'Letters From Home' achieves a similar effect from entirely different elements - an orchestral wash and a "choir" beckon the listener into a world of warmth and comfort, an almost spiritual home. None of the musical or vocal motifs should be taken as being dark by design. In fact I believe that the dying stages of the final track, 'Watched Over By Angels', indicate the true direction of the work as a voice asks "What's going to happen?". The answer - "Something wonderful".

A definite recommendation.