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Apse

Spirit

(ATP; US: 19 Aug 2008; UK: 7 Jul 2008)

Galloping through ominous landscapes

A galloping beat runs nearly all the way through Apse’s Spirits, the debut full-length released late in 2006 then reissued this summer by All Tomorrow’s Parties. It starts in “From the North,” with founder Ezer Lichtenstein (since departed from the band) pounding out a hurtling, headlong rhythm of toms and snares. He creates a physical sense of forward motion, driving the tunes over the ominous, nocturnal spaces established by guitarist and singer Robert Toher. Yet there is also an otherworldly spirituality in these cuts.  Heavily processed “la la la las” float in disembodied mirages, both in this cut and the “Legions” that follows it. On wonderful, “Shade of the Moore,” a sleepy waltz, a music box melody is allowed to flower briefly before it implodes into urgent, driving rhythms. Subterranean low-end, insinuated among drum crashes by guitarist turned and bassist Aaron Piccirillo, reinforces the sense of movement through darkness in this cut. You can almost feel the wind in your hair. 


One bit of still tranquility breaks this album’s powerful rush. That comes with “Wind Through Walls,” a serene and sunny interval of psychedelia. Here, piano chords and wordless voices echoing through empty halls, in an expansive, trippy atmosphere that is still wholly rooted in melody. If you have been thinking Amon Düüland Can up to now (and perhaps, on the basis of the vocals only, Radiohead), you will suddenly find your mind slipping to Pink Floyd. Yet it is a temporary lull in the restless race to the end, the epic title track. Here mystery and calm co-exist somehow with rampant motion, an eye in the storm, a zen stillness amidst all-consuming effort.

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