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Apparat - The Devil’s Walk

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Artist: Apparat

Album: The Devil’s Walk

Label: Mute

Review date: Oct. 3, 2011

Apparat co-runs the Shitkatapult label and collaborates with artists like Modeselektor and Luomo. He also put together a quality DJ-Kicks mix that featured Ramadanman and Cosmin TRG. An artist with his pedigree would assumedly make music that appeals to fans of edgier, “underground” dance music, but he doesn’t. At least, not this year. Instead, his new LP, The Devil’s Walk is extremely emotive, sweeping, singer-songwriter poptronica. A look through the track titles should give you a clear idea of what’s going on — “Sweet Unrest,” “The Soft Voices Die,” “Your House is My World,” etc.

Apparat certainly doesn’t strike a balance between deeply felt and the dancefloor, like Zomby’s Dedication. Nor are his songwriting ambitions ultimately pleasant and modest, along the lines of, say, Tarwater. The Devil’s Walk is firmly in Sigur Ros territory, where the drama is so outsize and the ambitions so nakedly clear that any impact is necessarily undercut. I suspect that someone versed in music theory could spot the technical similarities between these songs and a James Horner score.

The instrumentals do work well enough as soundtrack material, but the vocals and lyrics are just too much. Here are two sets of lyrics, one from Apparat, the other from Maroon 5. Try to tell them apart:

    “Trees and houses stray
    Dead legs turning silver gray
    Oh it happened yesterday
    Sunlight washes it away
    Where I go, I go alone
    I’ll be safe cause this is home
    Took the fast lane out of here
    To escape the truth, disappear”

    “I’ve been acting irresponsibly
    But what could possibly go wrong?
    I have choked on all your remedies
    Now won’t you let me please go home?
    But if I sit here lonely
    With no one to hold me
    At least I’ll have my health
    I’m trying to control myself”

Also, needless to say, Apparat’s vocals, like those of most electronic musicians, aren’t earth-shattering. Imagine a less defined Chris Martin.

So, what do we have? Maroon 5 lyrics sung unremarkably over soundtrack music. If Apparat wasn’t Apparat, I wouldn’t have listened past the second track. His production is still ace, with all of the pianos, strings and guitar skillfully and tastefully balanced with the electronic elements. If anything, the album isn’t obnoxious or overproduced, and those who are more forgiving of beauty-mongering landscape pop likely have a year-end list candidate. Those who are into Apparat’s more adventurous work and collaborations, though, should pass.

By Brad LaBonte

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