Merrin Karras – Apex (A Strangely Isolated Place)


Irish electronic producer Brendan Gregorly is best known for his house and techno productions as Chymera, the alias under which he’s released music for the past 15 years on labels including NRK, Cocoon and Ovum. After finishing a series of particularly gruelling production sessions for an album that he found himself not enjoying, Gregorly found himself more inspired by the ambient sounds of Klaus Schultze and Biosphere. After initially putting together a few ambient sketches, he found himself enjoying himself so much that he almost created this debut album ‘Apex’ under his new alias Merrin Karras without intending to. Built around elegant melodic synth textures and more brooding bass undertones, the eight beatless tracks collected here draw as much influence from contemporary post-IDM electronics such as Ulrich Schnauss as they do the Berlin ambient school.

Opening track ‘Catharsis’ certainly carries hints of the gently lulling post-IDM landscapes crafted by the likes of Biosphere and Oneohtrix as bright melodic synth tones bend against gently meandering bass tones and a background wash of warm glowing ambient textures, though there’s almost a feeling of hyperreality to the sharp edges of the melodic elements, every part seemingly glittering with a neon-lit glow. ‘Elevate’ suggests ‘Hyperborea’ era Tangerine Dream more than anything else as layered synth arpeggios ripple over vaguely ominous bass tones, the delayed-out synth stabs particularly calling to mind that group’s mid eighties output as glittering melodic sequences rise up against a yawning backdrop of drones, the expansively lush mix offering up a seriously immersive soundscape best suited to your headphones.

Elsewhere, ‘Severance’ lives up to its somewhat bleak title as ominous phased drones gradually give way to a slow bleed of background harmonics and icily synthetic synth strings, the sense of restrained tension building throughout the track, only for the blurred synth tones trail off into the distance. The eight minute long ‘Void’ meanwhile calls to mind one of John Carpenter’s early eighties synth scores more than anything else as analogue synths murmur and swell against glittering arpeggios and dark, brooding bass tones, the resulting VHS-tinted fusion conjuring up images of Snake Plissken wandering across some post-apocalyptic urban landscape. Freed from the constraints of making more dancefloor focused music, Gregorly certainly sounds like he’s enjoying himself on ‘Apex’, which manages to balance some reverential nods to the ambient greats with its own sense of gravitas.


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A dastardly man with too much music and too little time on his hands