Coming from a post-rock perspective with electronic influences, Apta, the one-man project of Barry Smethurst, has recently emerged into the world of bandcamp and other digital media along with thousands of musicians recording their own sounds and making them available to the world.
Although influences in this four-track EP, ‘Algorithms’, are found in the likes of The Echelon Effect and The Eternal Twilight, it reminds me very much of the sounds R.E.M. were producing in the 90’s when they were experimenting with electronica. This is in part found in the melodic structures and keyboard sounds, but also in the way it so effortlessly conjures up emotions and memories.
For examples look no further than the early stages of the first track ‘Rise’ and again in ‘Break’ with hints of that same mellotron sound of ‘New Orleans Instrumental No.2’, although more upbeat. The guitar arpeggios in ‘Break’ also remind me so much of the Athens band’s trademark. ‘Shadows’ recalls the simple piano progressions found in ‘At My Most Beautiful’ and is damn close to being as uplifting and beautiful a track.
I’m not saying for a minute that Apta has copied R.E.M.- he hasn’t. Rather, he seems to me to be thinking in a similar way about a lot of things as they were during that period. More than that, he is able to conjure up feelings of nostalgia, melancholy, loss, hope, tension, relief, anxiety and more without the aid of a Michael Stipe out the front.
This isn’t directionless ambient post rock, nor is it majestic air-drum-inducing crescendocore. Nothing is over the top or overused and the progressions are seamless, gradual and deliberate as themes intertwine like a hemp rope. The four songs need each other and leave the EP complete.
‘Algorithms’ contains mesmerizing and beautiful music, and is a sign of good things to come from Apta.