THE DEVIL’S WALK
Dub•step \ dub-step \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n + chill•out \ chil-aût \ vb
With Apparat, labeling proves difficult. If I can’t make a tidy reference to house, say, how do I describe the music? This is, of course, the key to the German producer’s charm. His output is like some hyperevolutionary organism that transforms before we musical taxonomists can classify it.
It used to be easier. Since he began releasing music for his Shitkatapult label a decade ago, Sascha Ring has existed at a crossroads of pop, techno, IDM and glitch. His early work clicked, rattled and hissed a lot. Over the years, and especially here, he’s filed down glitch’s harsher edges, softening things with guitars, strings, marimbas and thoughtful lyrics. The common thread is Apparat’s ability to combine lush textures and complex melodies to produce richly emotional music that transcends any genre tag.
With help from Chicago’s Josh Eustis (of Telefon Tel Aviv), the electronic alchemist has put the finishing touches on his brand of sweeping electronic pop in The Devil’s Walk, a task that’s taken three albums and stints with Ellen Allien and Modeselektor—the latter as Moderat. On “Song of Los,” he conjures soaring celestial soul with skittish beats, gurgling bass and guitars locked in an echo chamber.
He’s always lent his voice to his productions. Here, it’s a centerpiece. Amid the churning of synths and the dubstep gallop of “Candil De La Calle,” his pipes gleam with a hint of Thom Yorke. Later, as the tremolo of strings and the pitter-patter of drums crescendo into “Ash/Black Veil,” Ring repeats, “the walls are melting.” Lyrically, he sings of a lot of doom and gloom. Yet even as he breathes, “let me out, wave good-bye,” during the lilting swing of album-closer “Your House Is My World,” things aren’t as bleak as he makes them seem. This LP ensures Apparat a bright future.
—Joshua P. Ferguson