Apparat presents emotive new album

When announcing the release of Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre), German electronic musician Sascha Ring (also known as Apparat) described his newest album on his website: “It’s [my] first record ever that didn’t hurt at some point. It’s full of imperfection because it was made by humans.”

It’s clear that the album was “made by humans”; it is so emotive that it could only be created by passionate individuals. But if there are imperfections, they are certainly difficult to find.

Apparat mostly produces electronic music, but Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre) delves into the hypnotic magic of live performance and orchestral instrumentation. The music was originally composed for Krieg und Frieden, an experimental stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace by German theater director Sebastian Hartmann at the Centraltheater Leipzig; Ring performed the music live with two string musicians, Christoph “Mäckie” Hamann and Philipp Thimm, during the play’s performances.

When Apparat first started releasing music over 10 years ago, it was intelligent dance music (IDM) comprised of crisp electronic sounds. Over the years, though, Ring has slowly integrated more orchestration and vocals into his music; his 2011 album The Devil’s Walk featured lush, orchestral soundscapes mixed with his experimental electronics.

Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre) shows just how far Apparat has come since its early, purely electronic days: The album leans far more on orchestral instruments, ambient noise, and modern classical influences than on the beeps and boops prevalent in Ring’s early work. The result is emotionally rich music that’s so full of color that it’s easy to forget it was performed by only three people.

Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre) starts off simply, with slow, soulful harmonies from the strings. But eventually Ring’s electronic production creeps in, with small electronic sounds added here and there, eventually building into a noise interpretation of the strings’ simple melody.

This dark, ambient feel ebbs and flows throughout the album, with electronics, a piano, the strings, a xylophone, percussion, and Ring’s vocals all weaving in and out to create an emotionally complex tapestry of sound in which you can easily lose yourself. This is an album that deserves to be listened to with headphones, in full, without distractions, so that it can be fully appreciated.