When you think about it, electronic music is a funny thing. If you ever find yourself with a whole bunch of free time, head on over to Wikipedia and have a look at the list of electronic musical genres. Sometimes it’s bewildering to know where to even start when discussing the subject. And then, as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge already, an EP called “Algorithms” is released by a musician named Apta, and the We Are All Ghosts label’s website describes his music as living “in that wonderful no-mans-land of post-rock, ambient, and electronic sounds”; indeed Apta himself describes the EP as “melodic sensibilities of instrumental post-rock with the slightly skittish rhythmic nature of IDM and electronic music”. So, what exactly do we have here?
The opening track, “Rise”, begins with muffled, ring-modulated keys laying down a stereo pattern before a long, lazy rhythm kicks in, skipping and stuttering gently. Warm keys play out a naïve melody in a series of notes and chords. Little backwards synths add to the depth of the soundfield. Synth glitches are played off against quiet guitar notes. A little bitterness is layered over the top by way of noise, contrasting with the sweetness of the rhythm. The track ends with a series of tiny synth sounds laid over piano. It’s a very positive, upbeat track, and a fine opener.
“Break” starts with warped guitar notes, first coiling alone, then behind a distorted pattern on keys, before they are finally dragged into an intricate pattern of almost organic textures. Once again, a slow rhythm appears, albeit completely different to that on “Rise”; it’s in the treble range, with very little by way of bass. A simple descending pattern is added as the music builds, with Fripp-ish guitar shimmering on top. The beat is manipulated, oscillators morphing and twisting the rhythm into something more metallic. A quick fade, and “Break” is over.
Halfway through, and we’re into “Shadows”; darker in name, but musically uplifting, carrying a haunting, nostalgic melody plaintively set above glitchy electronica. The lead is reminiscent of an old, half-remembered folk tune, dragged from the dim past into the present against its better judgement, and then perched carefully on the top of an intricate base of post-rock guitar and fx. The music is an odd mix of something very old and something not so much new, but rather “now”; it probably shouldn’t work, but somehow it just does. At the end, the guitar distorts, disintegrating into nothingness.
The final track, “To the Sky” is a peaceful, quiet mix of guitar interwoven with synths. A petite rhythm, almost childlike, grows under filigrees of untreated guitar. Briefly, strings hover at the edges, reminiscent of Eluvium. A pattern of delayed guitar appears, before being swallowed by more guitar notes, this time reversed. Broken lines of static creep in, almost morse-like, under the sound of birdsong. The EP finishes with a tiny, distant propeller aircraft fading off into the blue. It’s done so cleverly that the listener can almost see it, especially on headphones. This is definitely my favourite track here; it’s a gentle ride in the sun on the ground, before taking to the air. Absolutely lovely.
Apta – To the Sky
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