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Apse - Climb Up

A confident, self-assured record from a fearless band that are capable of anything.

There is a constant feeling of ascension threaded throughout Apse’s fittingly titled new record ‘Climb Up’, with exalted melodies and a relentlessly uplifting quality found within the music, the listener can’t help but be elevated by what they hear. Recorded entirely by the band in their Cape Cod homes, ‘Climb Up’ has a natural, organic sound to it, but at the same time is so wildly diverse that one can be left wondering if they are still listening to the same album from track to track. There are elements of the propulsive frenzy of Animal Collective layered within some songs, others have the ethereal, soaring atmospherics of Radiohead, while additional songs have the unhinged guitar blues of Spiritualized. But unseemly comparisons only serve to discredit the startlingly original achievement that Apse have realized on this record, four years after turning the music industry on its collective ear with the equally groundbreaking album ‘Spirit’.

The album opens with the ominous groove of ‘Blown Doors,’ perhaps a bold statement of their collective confidence in what this record will do to their fans’ expectations, perhaps a refection on the impact of their last release, or it could even hint at the cold conditions in New England while the album was being written. Whatever the case may be, the first track is clear evidence that the band has moved on, with a larger, more electronic sound, as well as a more vocal driven style, with Bobby Toher’s foreboding lyrics of ‘This is your final warning’ layered prominently over the driving bass and steady drums of Brandon Collins. And from that moment on the album truly takes off, and remains untethered to genre or trends throughout. ‘3.1’ again begins with an infectious bass line, before giving way to Toher’s Bolan-like vocals in the chorus. The song is at once both dense and sprawling, refusing to be restrained by the typical pop parameters, instead breaking through to something beyond just music.

‘All Mine’ simmers uneasily, with just a whisper of ‘Sail To The Moon’ layered within it’s piano-laden quieter moments, before exploding with a moody, percussive fade out. The genuine atmosphere that Apse create within their music is tangible and a bit unsettling, with the unique and imaginative talents of Michael Gundlach shining through on each distinct song. All of these tracks are brimming with a stylish intensity that shapes their essence, giving the songs an urgent spirit that pulses within their melodies. The dynamic, guitar driven ‘Rook’ could have fit easily on last years ‘Songs In A&E’, with Topher’s steely vocals giving the song an added potency. The band seem comfortable with any tempo or style, switching from the dreamy, soulful piano dirge of ‘In Gold’ to the electronic ambiance of ‘The Age’ seamlessly, giving the album a fluid feel and sound throughout.

Other than on the insistent, frenzied beat of ‘The Whip,’ the second half of the album definitely slows things down a bit from the breakneck pace of the start. The band eases into more reflective, mercurial tracks like ‘Lie,’ which seems to be equal parts Portishead and Muse, but with a modern flourish that makes it sound fresh. The mournful title track is also a tranquil respite from the driving rhythms heard earlier, and while there is plenty of sentiment found within the song, it lacks the originality found on the rest of the album. But the album ends strongly with the T-Rex boogie of the aptly named ‘Closure,’ which is a clear example of the more accessible sound that Apse seem to be going for on the record. It’s imbued with a lively, modern energy and spirit that allows the song to soar, and brings the album to a cheerful, vibrant end, enlivening the listener like all good music should.

‘Climb Up’ is a confident, self-assured record from a fearless band that are capable of anything at this point in their career. For Apse refuse to get caught up in the Post-rock pressure, and are so far ahead of the game that we haven’t found a name for their new sound yet. And by the time we do, Apse will have surely moved beyond it with their next record. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take another four years to hear what the future sounds like.

Tags: Apse, Reviews, Album Reviews

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