Apparat - LP5
Throughout a career that began more than 20 years ago with a compilation of remixes, the output of German musician Sascha Ring, aka Apparat, has evolved from cutting-edge and forward-thinking (like the glitchy Multifunktionsebene) to serious and immaculately produced (the Krieg und Frieden soundtrack for a War and Peace theatre production). This type of evolution and continued improvement is a reflection on the dedication Ring applies to his work. Starting out as a DJ and making IDM his attention gradually shifted to songwriting, introducing a variety of instruments and sounds, all the while retaining a strong electronic undercurrent. And on collaborations (with Modeselektor, Ellen Allien and – one of my personal favourites, Love You All with – Luomo) his considered contributions always lent a favourable Pop injection. Continuing this line of development, while an electronic vibe remains on this fifth album, the ten tracks are largely informed by pianos, strings and guitars... and of course Ring's quavering falsetto. The focus now is on fluid song structures and emotive melodies, and in that, Ring delivers.
Digging deep, he's invested a little of everything he's crafted over the years (hooky melodies, orchestral elements, backwards vocals, Ambient textures, drum programming) with each element contributing a vital role to a quietly shifting album profile. Far from a mishmash of sounds though, LP5 is well considered music that works the emotions. Most tracks start slowly and quietly and remain that way, while others build tension, growing on you. And while Ring's singing is the key element on eight of the ten tracks, the accompanying underlying music is the consolidating factor, whether that's the haunting Ambient air that resonates on EQ_BREAK or the sombre organ on OUTLIER or the string quartet on BRANDENBURG. Lead single DAWAN is the perfect example, the spare guitar and drums sit low in the mix, allowing the vocals to rise atop. The highlight for me is CARONTE with its staccato strings and tender melody.
It's difficult not to mention Radiohead in this review - the similarity between the two bands is nothing short of striking, HEROIST in particular could happily sit alongside anything on A Moon Shaped Pool. Likewise with CARONTE. I only draw this comparison to make clear that Apparat and Radiohead are competing in the same league. This is beautiful, accessible Pop music to cherish.
- Rating: 9/10
- Listens: 17
- Highlight: CARONTE
- Label: Mute
- Release Date: 22nd March 2019