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Aptøsrs - Elders (Sky Baby Records)

30 March 2024

If the job of an advanced single is to make the listener want to come back for more, then “Rust Mountain,” my first taste of Aptøsrs did its job to perfection. Its blend of the symphonic with the subtle, the graceful and grand with the groovesome was as exquisite as it was unexpected. As it kicks off Elders the band’s debut album, it sounds as stunning and perhaps impossible as when it first graced my ears.

Did I say band? Actually, Aptøsrs is the work of one man rather than a band or ensemble. Paul Terry is an award-winning soundtrack composer and musician, and it is perhaps this singular vision, something that remains fully focused because of the lack of collaborators rather than despite them, a lack of the need to compromise or conform to others’ ideas, that makes his music so stunning and unique.

Of course, one of the issues that you face as a listener when the one track you know is also the opener is that, from then on in, the record is a journey into the unknown. But if such journeys are to be undertaken, it should be with the likes of Paul Terry as a guide, as the results are euphoric and mesmerising.

Tracks such as “A Peaceful Way To Defy Them All” perhaps sum up his music for this project concisely, moving as it does from soft, piano-infused lowlands through rising sonic tensions and broadening musical horizons, resonant beats and finally arriving at scintillating, crashing crescendos—all in under four and a half minutes.

“Questionnaires” drifts gracefully, “Graveyard Syndrome” pushes his often more controlled and considered music into the realm of metallic, speed freak beats and spiralling gothic forms and “Narcolepticon” is atmospheric and anticipation-building.

It would take a better man than I to begin to put into mere words the breadth and scope, the depth and dimension that makes up this extraordinary album. But I will say this: if you don’t come away from a few listens (I can’t imagine anyone coming away from this after just one spin) of this without already thinking about just where it will sit on your annual album of the year list, then suffice it to say that I don’t believe that we could ever be friends in real life.

Sorry, that’s just the way it is.