UK solo artists Apta and Row Boat have created a four track split EP displaying a soft bed of beautiful and engaging ambient with an original from each artist’s recent releases, and two remixes. Each brings their own distinctive style, the synthetic and somewhat clinical simplicity of Apta and the warm, complex and fluid layers and broad instrumentation of Row Boat. The resulting hybrids are similar to each other in feel despite each adopting the newer gene as the dominant.

Apta’s ‘Slowly, Home’ from his Swept EP is first, with it’s contrast of warm melancholic keyboard and cheerful, pulsating electronica, walking arm in arm along a winding woad, taking support from each other. It’s music that makes you smile.

Row Boat’s remix tells a rather more atmospheric version of the story, with the crackling of vinyl punctuating ethereal and angelic choral tones it adds just a sprinkling of the quirky electronica before adopting more of an edm feel in that thread,  reminiscent of 65daysofstatic. However the dominant feel remains ethereal and trumpet toward the end adds what only trumpet can.

The next track ‘Kämpaglöd’ is from Row Boat’s debut full-length ETT which we reviewed on (((o))) recently, and it too reminds of the latest record from 65dos with other familiar post-rock elements, such as the melodies over unwavering drumming, rising and falling bass, and long drawn out chords until the sad, percussion-less closing minutes with a hint of Ef.

Apta’s remix is underpinned by a series of simple melodies and arpeggios, in particular an emotional three or four note progression handed from one instrument to the next and which is close to the haunting song ‘Become’ by Encircling Sea, that will have you floating off into a distant world. As the song progresses a simple, almost 8-bit arpeggio provides the contrast that leads to a gently swelling crescendo that gently dies to the fading piano and desolate silence that remains after all life has expired.

Each artist creates with a different approach and style, and while both remixes share chromosomes they are not twins. Nor have either of the two artists destroyed  how the originals feel deep down by putting their mark too heavily upon them. Often I like to hear remixes that really warp and even shatter the originals, but in this case there is an overall feeling of restraint and atmosphere that keeps the boundaries reigned in, which makes this EP work so well as a whole. It’s certainly one of the better collaborations of it’s type that I’ve heard.

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