Review Summary: More of the same from an artist simply trying to present too much of himself, when the simple option would have been far more effective.
Outside of his breathless Duplex
release, there's always been something hidden in Apparat's music that's always managed to hold him back from being included within the big picture. Jumping ship from glitch-based skittery dance beats to tranquil ambient showcases definitely hasn't helped his cause either, nor has his overly intensive melancholic vocals or his delivery of said dusty gospels. He's always come across as an artist who seems desperate to convey a meaningful point while not actually having anything truly thought-provoking to discuss. And perhaps it's just been a case of bad timing, as vocal electronic music has only now just become the next big thing, as James Blake can attest to. But for every sumptuous and organic piece of ambient documentation that this ex-pat German has laid down, he's also fumbled with that always malignant sense of calmness that is inherently tied into his genre of choice by interlacing it with his heady and, occasionally, diabolical attempts at depressive poetry.
But there's always been traces of intense beauty and stunning tranquility bundled away in his music, his proficiency as a producer only adding weight to the kaleidoscopic waves of ambiance. And The Devil's Walk
is no exception, with its twitchy percussion and smooth-as-silk synths dueling like a balancing act against his shiver-inducing vocals. Comparisons have been made to the dream pop of yesteryear, and more than a few wide-eyed bloggers have attempted to ring Apparat into the chillwave sect and to be fair, the similarities are there, what with the German's propensity for disparate yearning and the child-like innocence he imbues in just about all of his works. But what holds him back from being wrangled into these groups is his use of vocals; while at times they float in and out of the dreamscape more than often you'll find them to be the centerpiece of the track, sometimes just too forceful and intrusive that they just end up damaging the fragile background. And it's not just the vocal work that ends up forcing its way onto you, it's there in the music as well, swelling up bigger and bigger like a post rock cliche. And when his emotional dam finally bursts it knocks you out of the spell of his ambient hypnosis, grabs you and shakes you free of the doldrum. He gets caught up trying to give too much, that he forgets the awesome power of subtlety and how mood and atmosphere work best when subdued, or at the very least roaring from a distance. But in those instances between his egotistical overload, he releases pure magic, unfiltered and glorious.
As has been the case for just about the entirety of Apparat's career, The Devil's Walk
is more of the same from an artist simply trying to present too much of himself, when the simple option would have been far more effective. It's not that these moments of overwhelming intensity are hollow or contrived, they just seem out of place appearing at the tail-end of such thoughtful and detailed melancholia. It's as if a sudden change of heart consumes Apparat halfway through his process and his inward thinking suddenly turns outwards. It just ends up blowing all of his subdued weight out of proportion. So yet again we're graced with another disjointed and broken lesson in life from Apparat, half spectacle and half spectacularly disappointing.