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WITH BELLS RECORDS

Apta

Rainbow Islands

    Apta is clean lines on saturated tape, soaring arps on top of Curtis filters, nostalgic riffs and neon streaks brought together into a hazy wash of rhythm and shimmering euphoria. Blips of modular synth and echoing Rhodes swirl around your head, perfect for closing your eyes and alighting into a world of fractalised RGB's and mile-long tracers.

    Rainbow Island is the distillation of this influence, imbued with the echoing guitars of post-rock and the stacked saw-waves of the cleanest synth-pop around. Perfect for the tape format, the first side of Rainbow island comes out with all guns blazing, with 'Loading' warming things up before the full spectrum wonder of 'Act One' establishes the rhythmic foundations for the (almost) titular 'Putty's Party'.

    Soaring saturated arps and growing echoes flicker before launching into the driving grit of 'Simulated Space'. As we turn over, 'Reloading' brings things back to earth before the commiserative afterglow of 'Retry?' peacefully sets up for the completion of the set with kosmische stomp of the finale, '10CC' (10-Credit-Clear).

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Warm, enveloping synth squelch'n'sparkle with beautiful melodies all over. Delicious stuff.

    For a fledgling label, it's a testament to the quality and diversity of it's curations that this neon finger-clicking number can sit happily alongside their first release, the superb (and decidedly cosmic ambient excursion) 'As The Spirit Wanes' by psychedelic synthesist and Jane Weaver-backer extraordinaire Raz Ullah. 

    Things start steadily enough with throbbing filtered bass guitar and glassine chimes before thumping into the riotously funky, and perfectly balaced bassy hum of 'Shamed'. Swelling saw waves pull back against the tinny electric keys and body-shaking bass guitar. Sidechained synths sweep slowly around the stereo image, before being joined gradually by layers of density, all perfectly produced and impeccably slotted together, providing a constantly changing and texturally rich backdrop to the smooth as silk vocal blanket draped lovingly over the top. 

    'Tonight' is the emotional counterpoint to the euphoric high of the former, with seratonin levels dropping into a resigned but comfortable bubble of introspection and languid visual trails. The throbbing sidechains are still present, but this time infused with sine-wave depth and none of the snarl of those snarks saws. Beautifully rich, and perfectly balaced melancholy, but swirled with stargazing optimism and warm, starry glimmers. 



    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Another fantastic outing on With Bells Records, this time from Women In Love, a transcendent downbeat disco-funk odyssey, both uplifting and introspective in equal measure. Beautifully designed, and presented as ever.

    Raz Ullah (known to locals as synth maestro for the one and only Jane Weaver) brings us a soaring and mesmerising duo of pieces for the newly established With Bells Records. The A-Side and titular piece begins with plate-reverbed drum hits and synthy swells and chirps, akin to one of my favourite knob-twiddlers of all time, Norm Chambers (AKA Panabrite). Bolstered with swooning Krauty bass rolls and aquatic arps, it flows along at a steady but thoroughly unintimidating pace, bringing to mind futuristic walks through utopian monuments and shining towers constructed through the advancement of time but a firm foot in the foibles of history. 

    Whilst the A-Side very much trades in optimistic forward-thinking progression, the B-Side shows the darker side of this futuristic society, brimming with ambient swells, heavy on high-end harmonics and windy swells. Gutsy bass and dystopian churns coalesce into a torrid and inharmonic trifecta of brittle melodic trills, aquatic subsonics and howling sweeps. A beautiful and graceful swarm of insectile force and brutalist architectural construction. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Nowhere near anything you could imagine, this is a single of two halves, brilliant euphoric soaring retro-futurism and gutsy nuanced drones brought together by a consistently deft production capability and a stunningly capable melodic sensibility. Brilliant.


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