Out of Berlin, Apparat is smack in the middle of the IDM/techno movement, and nudges it forward with his new album, Walls. Sascha Ring’s first release since his collaboration with Ellen Allien is a heady, buzzing exhibit of loungy dance music with several strong edges. The beats overlap, the synthetics are razor-sharp, and the occasional vocals smooth it all over like butter on toast.
Walls treads the fine line between artistic and functional as it’s complex enough to thorougly stimulate the mind while carnal enough to move the body. Some beats bounce with infection while some melodies corrode all anxiety with enchanting disconnect. "Fractales Pt. 1" is a multi-speed mix of guitar, piano, and various percussion that’s both dancefloor and bedroom. The opening track, "Not a Number" has a floating, unassuming string track while a xylophonic arpeggiation keeps an interesting pace. "You Don’t Know Me" has a glitched-out clapping rhythm while effects hop and strings breeze. Walls a highly-evolved mix that grooves and soothes.
Vocals spread throughout Walls are really what set the album on the next level. Raz Ohara is featured on four tracks and never steals the spotlight – only makes it brighter. On the swirling "Headup", Ohara nimbly skates alongside the galloping beat and sprinkler guitar. On "Hailin’ from the Edge" he drops more of an electro-pop vocal on the calm, futureshocked rhythm. Apparat even contributes vocals on two tracks, "Birds" and "Arcadia". The former is an airy pattering of strings and digital pecks while the latter has a hip-hop beat underneath his thin croon. All of the vocals on the album add endearing humanity to the thoroughly digital backdrop.
Further pushing Apparat’s reputation as one of modern electronica’s slickest inventors. Walls is a densely-layered mix that comes off lightly and agily, whether as instrumental or showing off vocals. A lot of electronic producers (in Berlin alone) would cut off an ear to make an album like this.