Brendan Gregoriy has been producing techno and house tracks under the name Chymera since the early 2000s, and while his full-lengths have diverted slightly from his dancefloor-focused singles, with slower tempos and more reflective spaces, his work as Merrin Karras fully explores ambient music. For his Karras recordings, Gregoriy established strict guidelines, prohibiting himself from using samples or any sort of percussion. The resulting music doesn't feel limited by any means; it's bright, alive, and freely flowing, submitting to its own cadences and following its own course. Debut Karras full-length Apex is a rich, melodic album full of propulsive drumless rhythms and rippling melodies that seem directly inspired by the tuneful works of Klaus Schulze rather than much of the sterile, lifeless drone that often gets categorized as ambient. At times, there are darker moments that hint at loneliness, such as the suspenseful "Severance" or the chilling "The Veldt." The eight-minute "Void" illustrates this feeling more thoroughly, combining the dark atmosphere with busy, rising arpeggios, coming closer to the cinematic solo work of Zombi's Steve Moore. Even with these more ominous moments, the album never truly feels bleak or hopeless. Closing piece "Isolation" features warm, rolling organ tones, sounding tranquil and at peace rather than alienated or frightened of being alone and helpless. The stunning "Liberant" seems to balance feelings of awe and wonder as well as astonishment and heartache, as if simultaneously expressing loss and gain. An inspired album of vibrant, expressive compositions, Apex finds the experienced producer adapting seamlessly into his new style.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2