Apparat ApparatDJ Kicks
Adding a new dimension to the “hobo fashion” look (the photo on the cover is surely the clubber reincarnation of Bukowski), Apparat once again reveals his shark fin to unnerve all of us swimmers who are so happy splashing about in his electronic waters. We were missing Sascha Ring, his audacity, his lack of commitment to labels, his restlessness… There really aren’t many seats he finds comfortable. And the best thing is that over the course of his long career, whether solo or in the company of his muse Ellen Allien , or next to Modeseleketor for the memorable Moderat project, the German’s interest in research never puts him at odds with coherence, something that is unusual when one is so eclectic. Possibly the best proof of this balance between the latest genres is to be found in the new volume of the DJ Kicks series. It is a majestic demonstration that while the majority of artists move in a dimension that can be detected by the senses, Apparat launches his ideas into the subatomic universe as if they were superimposed quantum waves. His elemental sounds can be in two places at once, and they collapse into a classic physical state when the listener interacts with them. It’s pure magic in the most extreme stratospheres of electronic reality.
Unpredictable, daring, incorruptible, Ring takes over the controls onboard DJ Kicks, and at the risk of ruffling quite a few feathers, he follows his instincts, embarking on a one-way trip, never a return journey, to the hidden deep-sea crevices of what he considers dance music. Evidently, the surest thing, the road most often travelled, would have been to follow the minimal grid, put in a little bass music (the kind that’s hot now in the UK), and to top the whole thing off with a few touches of tech-house for connoisseurs. But taking a look at the song list is enough to see that where Apparat rules, the easy way out is not to be found. Autechre, Oval, Thom Yorke, Burial and Four Tet share the floor with Pantha Du Prince, Joy Orbison and Luke Abbott. An experimental line, grains of ambient, glimmers of dubstep, dark pop melodies, and danceable discharges for futurist cities all blend together in a perfectly-constructed symphony. Along the way, which is not at all light, but rather extraterrestrial and melancholy, the rocky ground also has gold nuggets that must be savoured. The first is Apparat’s song “Saluyita”, exclusively for this mix –a magnificent artificial landscape of danceable drunkenness, with nods to Detroit and Sheffield–, while the second is another previously unreleased cut from Telefon Tel Aviv, “Lengthening Shadows”, with a synthesiser and bass lines that will have you in a state of ecstasy.
The album gets underway with suspense. Apparat uses one of his own songs, “Circles”, to create a systolic progression, getting a guitar loop going and making way for the steam engine of Carl Craig under his legendary alias 69 ( “Rush”), headed towards the nocturnal landscapes of Telefon Tel Aviv and the hallucinatory micro-electro of Luke Abbott (with “More Room”). The pieces adjust to each other, winding around each other like a bevy of cobras, and they give a summarised view of the tone of the set: the perfect use of experimental melody, pop, and the most cutting-edge club music. Then come Autechre’s industrial landscapes, remixing “Falling” by Scorn, the collage of voices and childlike electronic of Four Tet in the remix of Born Ruffians’ “I Need a Life”, the shamanic techno of Pantha Du Prince in “Welt Am Draht”. Sascha Ring wants more, and that’s why he sinks his teeth into the cartoonish polyrhythms of Ramadanman ( “Tempest”), giving way to Thom Yorke ( “Harrowdown Hill”), returning to the urban pulse for foggy dance floors thanks to Spherix ( “Lesser People”), pinching Oval’s bottom ( “TV Power”), and resorting to Joy Orbison ( “The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow”) to leave us with drool all down our fronts and the facial expression of Homer Simpson when he’s thinking about food. Even the songs that are applied as glue to facilitate transitions don’t sound like filler, such as Martyn’s “Miniluv”, which acts as a carpet to the magnificent “Sub” of Patrice Bäumel.
This is a delight, and that’s all there is to it. While the majority would limit themselves to executing millimetric transitions, arranging the cuts as if this were a domino tournament, Sascha Ring gets his greasy bangs out of his eyes and shapes the set as if it were plasticine, giving it the perfect spherical shape, and leaving us with the feeling of having listened to a single track, not a collection of favourites. This has a great deal of merit, and sends a clear message: a session isn’t a simple mixed compilation, a session is a trip. A trip to the depths.