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Apparat @ Scala, London 25/07/11

July 28, 2011

Originally posted on The 405

apparat scala live

Lets not dance around this; the creation of ‘Walls’ by Apparat, the brainchild of Berlin-raised Sascha Ring, was something of a special album. An (and I hesitate to use the word but it is justified in its literal use here ) unique album, a glorious feat of production in it’s hybrid of the best parts of techno with something more significant, intricate thus resulting in an earnest soulful soundscape. Yet something you very much could dance around.

That was 2007 folks. Four years later Apparat is on the cusp of releasing new album ‘The Devils Walk’ on Mute records, due for release September 26th. And tonight at Scala sees Apparat in band form unleash new material from the album, acting almost as a listening party for it; the whole set dominated by the mostly unheard tracks.

Right from the start it’s clear that the audience is captivated, in a state of deep anticipation, eager to be among the first to enjoy, absorb, move and be moved to the material. 2nd track of the night ‘Ash/Black Veil’ has been around on the internet for a bit (pretty much breaking the internet on its release) and sounds even more grandiose and beautiful here. A brooding monster.

From here on in it’s a procession of nameless track after nameless track – almost adding to the mystery and introspection of it all. The four-piece live really do nail the epic ambient electronic tag to a tee.

We’re treated to one real minimalist subtle number where a xylophone feels it’s way in gently, and verges on reaching some kind of Sigur Rós bombasticity; though pulls back form that zenith as further pianos join towards the finale to bring to the fore a wall of smooth feedback. Leaves wanting more almost but in that good sense, and the vocals a haunting sonic lesson dictated by a glorious fairy tale tragedy.

Ah yes the voice… remarkable, and going through remarkable changes track-by-track. It kills you, it really does. Take the 6th track which has modest beginnings before a few bars in a forest full of bass bulldozers it’s way into your soul. The shock feels like being plunged to a sudden violently spectacular death at first as it repeats throughout. Though the paradox of Ring’s delicate voice and atmosphere of the electronic build-up creates a marvelous synergy. How about this for a lazy comparison? Thom Yorke-esque. But it’s not far from the truth.

A couple of older tracks are thrown in as you’d expect to break things up; ‘Arcadia’ fitting in seamlessly with the new stuff (Oh btw, thank you Agoria for introducing me to Apparat through this song. Forever in your debt. See: ‘Agoria At The Controls’). But it’s the somewhat surprising appearance of ‘Rusty Nails’, a track created under the Moderat moniker – the hybrid of Apparat and fellow Berliners Modeselktor.

In fact it’s almost unrecognisable at first in this set-up, but soon grows into something more familiar but with a post-rock twang to it, less overtly driven electronically and sans many bleeps – and very much more tribal in nature. And in this microcosm it’s clear of the direction Apparat is keen to explore; one assumes this is true of the new album, and it is most definitely evident tonight. Tired of techno, without letting go.

So, the first listen for ‘The Devils Walk’ is very promising indeed – always so difficult to judge on a first listen particularly in a live setting, but the audience seem to lap up the spectacle. At times perhaps a tad too focussed on the feedback soaked monumental sounding build; though if you can do it with such a delicate execution, then why not?

As at the start, the sound of rain pours through the speakers to fade-out as the night meets its conclusion, to allow a mini space for our thoughts to stretch out akin to a cliched walk in the rain. These reflections of Apparat will no doubt be hugely positive for the majority present.

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