If you’ve placed a finger on the pulse of electronic music at any point over the last five years, it’s safe to say you’ll have encountered Apparat in one form or another. Sascha Ring, the Berlin artist who records under that name, has been a restless force in contemporary electronic music for a decade.
In that time he’s released three acclaimed Apparat albums – the fourth, The Devil’s Walk, arrived in autumn 2011 – and performed his intense live show in front of thousands at clubs and festivals around the world.
Broadly speaking, Sascha, a tousle-haired, slightly dandyish figure and an expert programmer, produces richly textured, emotional electronica and heavy sci-fi soul. The missing link between Steve Reich and Radiohead, Apparat brings the kind of euphoric melancholy that impels you to punch the air with joy while tears stream down your cheeks.
Apparat Band | Ash/Black Veil Chez Cherie Sessions pt.1
The Devil’s Walk, its title a nod to Shelley’s 1812 satirical poem of the same name, is the album on which Sascha grows up and raises his game. Having released his earlier records on cult electronics label Shitkatapult, where he worked for a number of years, this album is his first for Mute. And if his last one, 2007’s Walls, hinted at a move away from the heat of the dancefloor, The Devil’s Walk, with its cool, contemplative dream-pop and bruise-tender Sigur Rós texture, makes that explicit.
To some, Sascha will be better known as a member of Moderat, the gonzo electro supergroup consisting of him and his maverick pals Modeselektor. Their longheld Berlin bromance produced an acclaimed album in 2009, and in March this year Moderat played the last show of a riotous world tour at the Bloc Weekend festival. Thom Yorke adored that record and invited Moderat to support Radiohead.
Informed as much by the Cure, Roxy Music and Cocteau Twins as James Blake and Four Tet, Sascha recorded his recent album The Devil’s Walk in his Berlin studio, a short walk from his apartment. He was introduced to – and quickly inspired by – Patrick “Nackt” Christensen, formerly of Berlin electro-goth outfit Warren Suicide, who became Sascha’s co-producer. “He plays every instrument and has a very good feeling for not doing the obvious thing every time.”
Having furnished the tracks with guitars, drums, keyboards and whatever else was lying around the studio, the natural progression is for Sascha to perform these new Apparat songs with a live band. No longer a solo affair, Apparat is now a four-piece. “It’s hard to transform a computer record for the stage and that’s why I’m happy Nackt’s with me in the band. Finally I have a new project and everything is new. With a band things are different – it doesn’t feel like a step backwards.”
The album’s title is not just a reference to Shelley’s social critique, which, 200 years on, still manages to stir Sascha’s political sensibility; The Devil’s Walk also alludes to Apparat’s Mexican summer in 2010, when Sascha learned about the country’s attitude to the dead. “Skulls and death have a different meaning in Mexico. People celebrate funerals and I found that interesting, so I wanted to make this theme of the record and artwork.”
All you could want to know about Sascha Ring and Apparat is in this tremendous record. The devil isn’t just in the details, he’s locked into every groove. And with Sascha at the controls, he’s certainly got all the best tunes.
Apparat Band LIVE
Monday, 30 April 2012 | 21:00 CET
Berghain | Am Wriezener Bahnhof | 10243 Berlin/Friedrichshain