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Apneica : Pulsazioni... Conversione (EP)

Apneica's debut excels at showing both fragility and strength within their complex music.

Italy's Apneica. From apnea, the suspension of external breathing, anxiety. In this age, aren't there increasing levels of anxiety evermore pervading our reality? Media, in all its forms, pushes a pretty consistent level of fear and scare tactics for those willing to listen, and, if we were to really think about it from time to time, isn't the strangeness of existence enough to shorten the breath a little?

If the baby on the cover of 'Nevermind' was after financial redemption then the figure on the cover of 'Pulsazioni...Conversione' could well be after something far more meaningful. Gone is the dollar bill and in its place a more existential predicament. The world is very different to what it was in 1991 when Nirvana's sophomore release arrived. Far more hectic, fraught, and riddled with an uneasy, unspoken, mild asphyxia brought on by constant low grade panic. Apneica's 'Pulsazioni...Conversione' is a good enough expression of such times, and its artwork begs the question whether it's time we all learnt to breathe again.

One reaction to the existential problem is distraction and aversion, usually at ever increasing speeds or quantities, in turn creating greater levels of isolation and disassociation but with momentary levels of illusory appeasement. On the other hand though, a certain amount of solace can be found in slowing down, and becoming knowingly supended in things as they are. This is how both the cover art and the music of '...Conversione' reveal themselves. What we have on offer here are four rather bewitching musings on one of the many paradoxical natures of reality: namely the desperation of separateness, and out of it the very real possibility of exquisite union.

The opening section of the first track is not entirely indicative of what's to follow, and it wouldn't have been a shock to hear the dulcet baritone of Eddie Vedder kicking the vocal proceedings off in suitably sentimental fashion, but thankfully it's not to be, and as the track builds in volume, the guitars kick in and the death growls commence, far from being an incongruous mess, almost immediately the strength of Apneica's songwriting becomes apparent. Melody abounds here, as do alternating light and shade passages, with clean and distorted guitars and similarly opposing vocal styles. Apneica excel where others fail in their ability to show both fragility and strength within the music. There's a wisdom here that holds all the extremes of their expression safely and securely within the confines of their art, so that at no times are there any sudden shocks to the listener. Having said that, it's extraordinary how progressive their sound is, dipping as they do into various characteristics and influences, and as a result of this even more extraordinary how well the songs flow.

With 'In Orbita' things open up further into what could sound almost experimental if it wasn't so well crafted and backed with great production, and on 'Assenza di Gravita' we see things really start to take shape, with epic swathes of lead melodies complemented by the vocals. The music is bass-heavy and soupy when it needs to be and the relevant musical parties back off sympathetically for the quieter moments. If they can pull it off live then it would be something to behold I'm sure. The singer gets the man of the match award here, for both delivery and versatility, with the arrangements of the songs a close second. Of course there will be influences to be heard in the music and certain quarters online who've picked up on this release are already lazily churning out standard name-drops and soundalikes; but suffice it to say that if you enjoy the more emotive sides of the Death/Doom genre and don't want everything to sound like it was recorded in a large wet cave on a dictaphone then Apneica are more than worth your attention.

Ultimately I wanted to hear more, and I wondered where else they could have taken me. Apneica truly communicated here, and even if my first (or any subsequent) language is not Italian the vague attempts I had at translating the lyrics were as redundant as they were entertaining. '...Conversione' is an ode to music transcending any boundaries of language.

As the last sounds on the EP died away for the umpteenth time, I came back to the world around me and on picking up the cover again I wondered if the figure on the front was leaving their familiar isolation behind, cutting an unseen umbilical chord which had tethered them to an outdated way of living full of fear, anxiety and bouts of apnea. Thus being re-born, different and hopeful, they are effortlessly floating their way into pastures new. But it's worth noting, as the brooding and complex waves of music here are apt to remind us, no birth is an easy one.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Alba Artificiale
2. Assenza Di Gravita
3. In Orbita
4. Pulsazioni...Conversione

Duration : Approx. 27 minutes

Visit the Apneica bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-11-05 by Matt Halsey
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