Apart – Across the Empty Night

01/03/2009 § Leave a comment

Artist: Apart
Title: Across the Empty Night
Label: Final Muzik
Genre: Ambient / Post-rock

Track Listing:

01 Third Dream
02 My Silence
03 Indifference
04 As a Child
05 Another Life
06 Ashes
07 Scarlet Night
08 Fragile
09 Fading Tears

Although I’m not a big fan of All My Faith Lost, their sister band is a slightly different matter. Apart comprises of Francis and Viola from All My Faith Lost and takes the duo’s music in a far more ambient direction, relying heavily on acoustic guitar, cello and synthesiser. The band describe their music as sounding like “something fragile” which is a pretty accurate description, given the delicacy of the music. Many of the songs are not woeful pleas for help or swollen, self-involved conceits, but shy and hazy melodies composed in moments of great uncertainty and frailty. It’s the sound of a scribbled personal thought not meant for outside attention, a demure emotion wanting solace: it is music composed to sound deliberately naked and vulnerable.

Across the Empty Night bears a heavy theme of reclusiveness. The artwork on the piecemeal CD carries pictures of windows on all of its surfaces, veiled in thin curtains washing in and out of their frames. There’s an idea that a lot the music here is comprised from personal desires and wants, composed in wanton seclusion. The theme of the window links well to the music since a lot of the tunes on Across the Empty Night are light, airy songs, though with a sediment of tribulation underlying them. The clean guitar sounds, cello and vocals are reminiscent of a perfect cross between ambient music and light rock, and it’s very atmospheric stuff, especially if you’re a fan of the ethereal genre.

The album is at its best in numbers such as “Another Lie” with its troubled lyrics and deep vocals, and “Scarlet Night”, whose skipping and coltish synth melodies are quite beautifully charming. Indeed, when Apart compose music from the heart its very obvious and the second half of the album is the strongest as a result. However, on the rest of the album there’s a sense of too much emphasis on emotion – too much coercion – and quite a dew of the songs end up sounding stewy and glutinous as a result. Maybe Apart don’t have quite enough negativity and pain going on in their lives to make a full album’s worth of this kind of music without it sounding slightly overdone, and though Across the Empty Night does well in its closing songs, the first few are rather force-fed, its like listening to the creation process of musical pâté de fois gras.

The main thing that needs improving in Across the Empty Night is not the song writing but the vocals. Alberto Milani and Viola Roccagli are not bad vocalists, they’re just terribly mediocre. Singing in a soft and mellow fashion is not always as easy as it seems, and if the vocals were improved more the album could be injected with the emotion it so heartily desires. As a result a lot of the vocal lines end up being subservient to the music, which given its tone and colour, makes it probably more fragile than even the band realise. It’s no surprise then, that Another Lie is one of the best moments on the album since the vocals are done by guest singer Daniele Stefanuto.

Across the Empty Night certainly has some good moments and in the right mood it can be quite companionable on a bleak and hopeless night. Though the album does well at some of its more profound moments, it does descend into thin ambient slush way too often to be a rewarding listen from beginning to end. Apart haven’t quite come to terms with the idea that less is more, or certainly haven’t effectively enough, and this does lend the album an essence of fiction. Those who prefer their ambient music to be nothing more than incidental could certainly find this the perfect antidote to a solitary evening, but its flaws are all too obvious when giving it full attention.

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