Apta‘s Starlight is the second entry in Clay Pipe Music’s Mini CD Library series, and it comes with a bonus: a tiny box to hold all five releases. If the curve of the star on the cover is meant to match the curve of the horse’s head on Modus’ O Mira Novitas, all the better; the label is known for attention to detail.
A slightly amusing aspect of the release is that it covers the time from civil twilight to dawn in only nineteen minutes. These durations occur in the northern and southern extremes at the summer solstice. But the set is meant to be evocative rather than timed, and these tracks twinkle and shimmer, evoking the stars on an especially crisp evening.
Today is the last day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. As summer ends, people look to the night in two opposite fashions. Some dread the dark, thinking of shorter days, shadowy alleys and the loss of the sun. Others embrace the night, looking forward to brisk evenings, constellations, perhaps the Northern Lights. Starlight is the second type of release, in love with the storytelling hours, brightness and cold. If one is sleepy, Apta’s set may help one to drift away to Slumberland (the last track, “Dawn,” the most restive); should one wish to brew a cup of tea and venture outside, the music may provide motivation.
In “Twilight (Civil),” synth notes momentarily step outside the melody, indicating the manner in which stars seem to blink on and off. A drone descends like the curtain of night. Once these angular elements recede, the set settles on a clear trajectory, straight on to morning. “Twilight (Nautical)” offers mingled guitar lines, nearly post-rock in timbre, followed by chimes like church bells, tolling the evening’s final hour. Light percussion makes “North Star (La Vache Fantome”) the mini-CD’s most awake and aware, signaling the comfort navigators feel when locating the star and finding their bearings. The final seconds trip over each other like Day over the last tendril of Night. And then the sun is up, the sleeper rolls gently from the bed, and all of the stars, save for the sun, retreat into the brightening blue. (Richard Allen)