Seven weeks ago, the Sasquatch Music Festival lineup was released to much fanfare. Like all festivals, some hated the lineup while others loved it. For the more levelheaded, it appears to be a very balanced lineup with a deep undercard. From here on out we will be underscoring the lesser-known Sasquatch artists by highlighting a different artist each week. Beyond delving into each artist’s bio, sound, etc., we will attempt to give some insight into what will make their performance at Sasquatch so amazing.
Apparat aka Sascha Ring is an electronic musician from Berlin. You could probably tell that he was European from the photo above. Beyond his stereotypical European DJ look though, Apparat is one of the more versatile artists in the game. You see, Ring became Apparat 11 years ago in techno-dominated Berlin. Like so many others in his position, he began making techno, but soon became bored with the direction it was moving in the late 90’s. In 1999, along with T. Raumschmiere, Ring started up Shitkatapult Records with the goal of releasing the type of music “we wanted to release.” Eschewing genre ties at an early point in his career was a telltale sign for Ring, as we’ve seen over the past decade.
Apparat’s early work, Multifunktionsebene and Duplex, were both heavily influenced by Ring’s techno background and Berlin surroundings, but also included elements of ambient and early IDM. In 2005, Ring collaborated with Ellen Allien, another offspring of the German techno movement on Orchestra of Bubbles. Like Apparat’s solo work, the album harkened to the 90’s techno era, but also took influence from modern electro and featured Allien’s vocals on many tracks. Orchestra of Bubbles pushed both artists into the spotlight outside of Germany, and along with Modeselektor, helped define a growing techno-influenced, yet distinctly ambiguous, form of electronic music.
In 2007, Apparat released Walls, a drastic change in direction from his previous work. Essentially abandoning the techno that had dominated his previous releases, Walls instead takes more from synth pop acts like M83 and The Antlers. For the first time, Ring flexed his vocal muscles and results were pretty spectacular. The album was widely hailed as one of the year’s best and showed, once again, Ring’s versatility as a producer, and now as a vocalist as well.
2009 saw Apparat rekindling his relationship with the now wildly successful Modeselektor to from Moderat. The trio released an EP in 2002 but due to some form of creative differences, took a seven year break before rejoining forces. The self-titled result, recorded entirely with analogue equipment in Berlin’s legendary Hansa studios (where Bowie recorded Heroes), is a mixed bag of styles, but ultimately highlights both Apparat’s and Modeselektor’s individual talents. Apparat’s vocals and ability to create ambient soundscapes that are immense in both sound and feel, yet rarely solely fall into the ambient category, instead borrowing from glitch, electro and other genres, are heavily featured on the album. Modeselektor’s innovative ability in the studio to use analogue equipment like no other makes the album what it is. Moderat is a scattershot attempt to fuse two artists styles that is far from cohesive, but in the end, quite enjoyable. In the two years after the release of Moderat, the trio toured the world endlessly, and experience that would exhaust Ring and eventually spur a distinct change in his sound.
Fast forward to 2012, Apparat is playing guitar and singing on stage. There’s a band behind him, yet unlike his previous tours, both as a solo artist and as Moderat, they are not manning analogue synths and keyboards, they are all playing acoustic instruments. The electronic sound is still there in some sense, more in the layering of the instrumentals than anything, but the music is more organic and takes place far from the sweltering clubs Ring made his home in for so many years. Most of the tracks comes from 2011’s The Devil’s Walk, an album that maintains those classic Apparat atmospherics, but repositions them into an acoustic framework. After touring for two years as Moderat and DJing for years, Ring got sick of the dance music scene. He got sick of spending hours in the studio crafting music on his computer. He got sick of playing what the crowd wanted to hear and not what he wanted to play. Eventually, he got sick of the people associated with the dance music scene.
Apparat is scheduled to perform in the Banana Shack (the dance tent), although his newer music would translate better to an outdoor stage (maybe around sunset). Nonetheless, despite eschewing the dance community, The Devil’s Walk is no snooze fest and will surely get people off their feet. They might be swaying as opposed to fist pumping/flailing uncontrollably, but that’s not a bad thing in my book.