Apparat: The Devil’s Walk
Apparat a.k.a Sascha Ring, the resident practitioner of Berlin techno in the early noughties, has grown up. On 2007’s Walls, he honed a niche for lush, atmospheric electronic shoegaze that took its cue from the dream pop of Slowdive and expansiveness of M83. Since then, Ring has spent most of his time working with Modeselektor as Moderat, putting out an acclaimed LP in 2009 and touring the world with a visually-enhanced live show.
The conception of The Devil’s Walk began during a lengthy trip last year to Mexico, before becoming fully realized later in recording studios located in Europe. The cross-continental journey and combination of cultures helped to define the right blend of cold electronics with warm strings and keys, and drifting vocals that recall late, quiet nights in a simple tropical atmosphere. It picks up where Walls left off with a continuation of seductive, suave electronica married with the sonic possibilities of techno. A hands-off style that can loosely be described as pop, it entices you in rather than grabs you by the throat with its measured, crystalline amble of tracks like ‘Candil de la calle’ and ‘A bang in the void’. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Black Water’ feels a bit too mechanically manufactured for epic status and the vocals on ‘Escape’ sound awkward next to the delicately melancholic baroque pop string arrangements.
Despite this, Ring clearly has an ear for graceful vocal melodies that have been sown together with great care, perhaps an indication of the commercial direction in which he wishes to head. He has become adept at extracting elements of electronic music and injecting a dose of humanity that captivates listeners on an emotional level. Broadly speaking, The Devil’s Walk is swathed with leftfield textures not dissimilar to a certain Sigur Ros in their heyday, but pales in comparison as a slightly inferior replicant of their sonic abilities, and is perhaps guilty of substituting maturity for soft introspection intended for the mind rather than the body. So not a step up from Walls as such, more a step-over to a more accessible field, albeit with mixed results.