Apparat ApparatThe Devil’s Walk
Sascha Ring said that this definitive version of “The Devil’s Walk” bears little resemblance to the one he made a year ago, following an existential and creative journey in Mexico - which lay the foundations and set the context for the album. According to the German producer, that first attempt was more electronic and sounded colder, which left him unsatisfied and forced him to redo a large part of the material in order to shape the record we now have in our hands. And yes: with its spontaneous string arrangements, the importance of the vocals, the frantically played violins, pianos and repetitive keyboards, unexpected ukuleles and other instrumental romping - in addition to the pop concept - Apparat's new album (his first on the Mute label), definitively moves away from the more electronic and danceable sound of his earlier works. It’s a kind of epic pop, evanescent and melancholic, and most likely controversial.
The defenders of his first release will find a wall of melodies, where the German's voice is more important than ever and where the beats and the electronic arrangements are no longer the primary source of inspiration - but rather editing tools and complements to a concept that is instrumental and orthodox. The change is big and explicit, though the logical and brave continuation of “Walls”, on which some changes and twists could already be sensed. You can hear it, most of all, in Ring’s growingly confident use of the voice. Whether that be his or his friends' – for example Anja Plaschg, also known as Soap&Skin, on “Goodbye” - it gives a new personality to his sound, closer to pop and much more interested in the epic dimensions of his songs. You can also feel it in the tempo, more contemplative and paused - in the themes of the songs, spontaneous chronicles of meetings and goodbyes (after all, we're talking about an album that, according to its maker, is basically about girls) - and in the conscious search of immediate emotion, without any beating around the bush.
Therefore, in spite of its imperfections, although not all the songs are completely convincing, although the change may seem drastic, although it all may seem a bit too precious and although some of the influences may be all too obvious; “The Devil’s Walk” is a beautiful, intense and fascinating expressive and stylistic reinvention. Radiohead, James Blake, Steve Reich, Tangerine Dream, Sigur Rós and M83 form part of a long list of easily recognisable influences – here they manage to understand each other and come to one concept. It's pop of today, nocturnal and urban, carefully crafted and generous, emotional but not schmaltzy, full of aspirations and details, exultantly romantic and attractive, a comforting shock therapy for days of anger with the world.