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AAA Music | 19 January 2019

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Apparat – Live @ The Barbican

| On 11, Nov 2015

KUF_Mailand

Saturday 7th November, London

During the latest years, Apparat has become something more than a solo project and has also gone beyond Sasha Ring’s electronic sensitivity.

The Quedlinburg-born and Berlin-based musician, who debuted at the end of the 1990s as a techno DJ and producer, had the first considerable turn of his career in 2007 when he formed his band and moved to more rarefied and ambient soundscapes without losing sight of his most radical and extreme expressions.

A few years later, he signed for Mute Records and his music trajectory nosed-up. Since then, his compositions have been adopted by and adapted to movies, documentaries, TV-series, theatrical performances and much more…After twenty years, Apparat has finally become an auditory and visual experience more than a music act, which gives its best if enjoyed live and hardly leaves its audience indifferent.

The crowd that packed Barbican for the only UK gig of the German ensemble was anything but indifferent to the Teutonic artistry. The six musicians and off-stage technicians crafted indeed an overwhelming show based on the soundtracks and scores recently written by Ring. If at first sight everything appeared measured and moderate, also thanks to the politeness and calmness of the interpreters on stage, once the music and visual effects started to fill the hall, the mood quickly transformed itself.

Apparat and his music partners are able to flood a venue with their sound. No matter its size, they can hold their audience’s attention and hearing for hours creating a sort of musical trance. As a matter of fact, despite their manners and sincere courtesy words, their sound was far to be constantly mild and gentle: next to the many harmonious and even soulful chapters, there were also some dissonant, conflicting, sharp and electrifying moments that excited the London crowd.

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Once the bandleader positioned himself in the centre of the stage surrounded by his trustworthy musicians all wearing total-black outfits, the first notes of the cello played by Philipp Timm and Christoph Hartmann’s violin started to flow through the hall. It was immediately clear that what was going on at the Barbican was something more than a gig: the audience was indeed attending an electronic and lyrical liturgy.

Soundtracks and More, which was the title given by Apparat to the British episode of his tour, was an artistic lifting ceremony. It was a show that enjoyed the suggestive video art designed by the visionary talent of the German VJs trio Transforma and inspired stage lighting, which followed the performers in every movement.

Musically, it displayed the intense and incessant variation between live-produced artificial sounds and live performed ones which characterises Apparat works. If on one side the drum machine and synth sections, loops and effects gave life to palpable and sometimes even excessive sensations, on the other the strings and percussions made the scene otherworldly and ethereal.

Finally, it was all about the sweet-and-sour voice of Sascha Ring, able to be delicate and whipping at the same time. Apparat is/are further proof of the momentous cultural drive that German electronic music still has today. Since the project is a glaring example of what the Central-European country is able to create in the music sphere, we can easily sleep soundly and enjoy their fine-grained compositions and forward-looking orchestral attitude.

Marco Canepari