• Wed, Nov 14, 2018
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Gig Review: Apparat Live at The Blue Frog, New Delhi (August 31)

gig Reviews Sep 15, 02:20pm

MEDHA SINGH One juggles with a strange mix of ideas, some pleasant, some uncertain, when left

MEDHA SINGH

One juggles with a strange mix of ideas, some pleasant, some uncertain, when left to write about a genre of music that Apparat brought to the table (quite literally), in Delhi and Mumbai recently – namely, ambient electronic music. It is entirely possible that a clash of sensibilities might occur more often than one would desire. Interesting to note is that most people present at the Frog, in New Delhi, were completely ignorant of Apparat’s music before having entered this new space (as your humble narrator’s ear caught on to some stellar insights by the members of the audience, such as ‘What a cool band, they’re just like Coldplay..’), and even more interesting is the fact that they were left smitten, much like I.

Apparat’s music talks of an overwhelming sense of estrangement that a life-in-the-city carries with it, and an honest musical articulation of it. The line up in Delhi was as follows: Sascha Ring (vocals and guitar), Nackt (Piano, guitars and bass), Ben Lauber (Rhodes, keyboards), Jorg Waehner (drums, percussion) and last but not the least (and undoubtedly the most impressive) Christoph Hamman on the violin. Touring to promote their latest album, The Devil’s Walk (2011), they waltzed into our metropolis with some characteristic good cheer.  When one says ambient, perhaps it is only fair to consider only what they do to their audience when live, and believe it when I tell you; it is in-fucking-sane.

This album has arrived at a time when vocal oriented electronic music is catching on fast, yet it has sustained its integrity inasmuch as their fantastic production skills, beautiful vocals, and a powerful chemistry on-stage and off are concerned.  It is perhaps unjustified to club them within the persisting categories of post-rock (of which Sigur Ros, Mogwai, GodSpeed You! Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky reign full and free), but one is, at the same time, tempted to recall another earlier debut this year by Dry The River – only in terms of its ambient, omniscient quality. There are hardly bands left with a novel sensibility, especially those that are on the brink of this much coveted thing called fame. This is one album replete with calculated whispers, listen to ‘Candil De La Calle’; for instance ‘Black Water’, ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Song of Los’ are one of the more hard hitting tracks on the album, where Sascha’s emotional honesty is up for grabs for all and sundry. There is a lesson in that, 

As for the thronging masses: well, it seemed that most of them had showed up because a foreign band was playing. Unlike the rock scene in town, where people interested in rock music go to rock shows, here the dance crowd had turned up, and once something a little more complicated than head-bobbing beats shows up, people tend to lose interest. However, at some moments in time they toppled all over each other to reach the front; possessed by the giant creature of sound, that impregnated the walls of a formerly-drab-space-whose-lights-resemble-a-Euro-trash-porn-studio.  As for me, I was thankfully seated on a table they called ‘pods’ (Frog? Geddit?), but I stayed, an era more than a mere fifteen minutes. Concluding that one should listen to Coldplay, and thereafter move on to greener pastures, forget those troubled times, transcend.

Having said that, one feels it is important to acquaint our readers with Sascha Ring a.k.a Apparat’s frontman, and his journey, both musical and physical.  Based in Berlin, Sascha began his career sometime around 1996 playing German dhikchik dance music; realizing that such music makes seemingly mild mannered men and women spread and multiply against their will and better judgment, he found in himself a decision, one that was ridden with confidence, certainty and, a now mature sensibility to ‘design sound than beats’.

Thereafter, he appeared in John Peel’s sessions and released an EP in 2005. He then collaborated with Ellen Alien (2003), and joined forces with Raz Ohara and Jorg Waehner to play Walls (2009) live. During the course of the same year, he coveted the Qwartz Dancefloor Award, and released a self titled collaboration with Modeskeletor under the name Moderat on BPitch Control.

Fast forward a year; we have a record deal to ourselves with the very famous Mute Records for The Devil’s Walk, that is titled after a political poem of the famous Romantic PB Shelley in September. Their tracks have featured in various TV Shows and documentaries as well.

Returning to the gig, I leave you with this, thus: there is beauty in the process of transcendence, which is what Apparat is doing in terms of prosaic and clear cut genres that PeopleLikeUs seem to be so absorbed with. Also, it is important now for our local Rockerboyz to pick up pace, and develop a sense of novelty, leave that metal thing for insecure school boys, especially after being audience and witness to such variety and rigor. We need a developing musical space in town, minus all the self-congratulating and ‘networking’.
It then becomes easier to just appreciate shows without compulsively analyzing things. 

All photos taken by Abhijay Gupta

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