Apse - Spirit
Apse have been around in one form or another since the turn of the century and over the years they've worked hard to hone their sound, sporadically releasing a handful of EPs and singles. Their long gestation period has led them to a heady, sensual musical domain of light and shadows, heralded by the release of Spirit, their debut full length.
A dark and immersive piece, it kicks off with From The North's whispered, shamanic vocals, an invocation of something sinister and ancient from the bowels of the Earth soundtracked by primal drum clatter and acrid six-string chimes. What follows is a richly atmospheric release of meditative, crawling drones that twist and groan with a crackling intensity.
Percussion dominates the scenery of this album, from intense tribal polyrhythms to restrained kicks and shuffles that spit and strain at the leash, simply radiating tightly wound menace. Although there are strong elements of post-rock to be found, one of Spirit's real strengths is that it never feels hampered by the strict structural nuances and conventions that can hang like a weight around the neck of releases in that genre. Of course there are points that recall scene stalwarts GY!BE and Mogwai, but it never seems like an exercise in slavish duplication. Earth Covers Us recalls the more melodic side of Fuck Buttons' glitchy, insistent beats, minus the ear-shredding noise so carefully cultivated by Apse's labelmates, while nine-minute long epic Blackwood's shimmering haze at one point gives way to a deliciously funky bassline.
The sextet have succeeded in creating a darkly brooding album full of songs with just enough space for the listener to crawl inside, allowing the secrets and layers which reveal themselves a little more with each listen to seep slowly into your brain. Although the record's mood and aims constantly seem to shift there is a recurring feeling that won't let go - a sense of dread that it never allows you to shake off... and nor will you want to.