Remanence Biography

That "the journey is the destination" has been repeated so widely and so often, it is sometimes easily forgotten. Still, it would be difficult to overlook this fact when considering Remanence, the collaboration between Brian McWilliams and John Phipps. In the early '90s, Brian's main project was writing and playing bass with the 80's-influenced pop act "In Autumn" while John was sitting in on guitar and keys with a destined-for-oblivion psychedelic basement band. The two found mutual interest in instrumental music, particularly genre-stretching artists such as David Sylvian, Brian Eno, In The Nursery and Dead Can Dance. Both were also intrigued by the creative possibilities of recordings as tangible physical objects, noting how designs such as those of Russell Mills, Zoviet France, and the 4AD albums produced by Vaughan Oliver's 23 Envelope added another dimension to the experience of the music contained within.

Together, they set out to create work that would satisfy these impulses. The first fruit of that collaboration, ...premonition, was released on the band's own label mPATH Records, in 1994. The 6-song ep was well received, not only for its content, but also for the innovative, hand-made packaging which has become something of a hallmark for the group. This first collection set the stage for the 1996 release of the self-produced Apparitions album, which was variously described as "startlingly original" (Kansai Time Out), "Grand, adventurous and cinematic" (Ambientrance), "13 tracks of stunning, emotive beauty" (Spectrum), and "quite simply brilliant" (Meltdown). In 2000 the UK's Cold Spring Records (Psychic TV, Merzbow, Deutsch Nepal) reissued the album.

By that time, Remanence had entered a new phase with a greater focus on improvisation, found-sound, and other forms of premeditated randomness. This approach grew naturally out of broadening personal and creative interests, but was also propelled by the new reality of significant geographical distance between the pair. The results were apparent on the 2002 ep Lamkhyer, which credited "Experimental Method" as a phantom band member, to acknowledge the extensive use of I-Ching, coin toss, and dice in the compositional process. Almost paradoxically, during this period of experimenting with chance and mathematics, the pair's work grew more direct and intimate, becoming an increasingly revealing reflection of personal experience and upheaval. Lamkhyer, a 3-inch mini-CD, revisited the hand-made approach of the band's first release, with musical and graphical ideas germinating together.

In addition to being a meditation on indeterminacy, Lamkhyer was to be a stepping stone to the next record A Strange Constellation of Events, planned for a 2004 release. However, early in that year, with production nearly completed, a break in at the band's Sound Observatory studio resulted in the loss of a substantial portion of the recorded material. With painful effort, and a certain amount of "letting go" the album was released in 2005. Constellation reflected on the subtle but profound synchronicities that flow through and shape our personal narratives - connections so obscure they are often seen as random and meaningless.

Branching out beyond the bounds of the group effort, McWilliams (recording as Aperus) released Tumbleweed Obfuscated by Camera Failure (2003) and a year later, the Hinterland EP. Both projects sought to capture the emotion and sense of place found in his landscape photography and field recordings and translate it into an audio / visual experience for the listener. Not surprisingly, chance and accident remained as central themes, while the music incorporated a mixture of emotional colors. These projects helped broaden the group's approach with input of key players such as percussionist extraordinaire Carolyn Kobel and ambient artist James Johnson, who aided in mastering.

Remanence continue to create within the context of their expanding interests, with the launch of their new label Resonant Effects. Upcoming releases include archival material and a new record, yet to be titled. Musically, their style continues to remain rooted in the ambient genre, blending deliberateness and spontaneity as vehicles for the expression of emotional experience.