Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Mute
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Ambient, Downtempo, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Post-Rock, Musical Theater
Sascha Ring (aka Apparat) takes an entirely different approach on his latest album, Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre), treading into the world of theatre compositions. It's not exactly what you'd expect from the German DJ/producer, although the concept alone is enough to pique interest. Commissioned to compose the score for the stage adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace, Apparat came back with a seamlessly blended, minimalist album of epic proportions.
Sascha Ring’s foray into the land of theatre scoring should be deemed as not only a complete success but a nigh on perfect collection of compositions. Originally commissioned to bolster the already emotionally charged prospect of German director Sebastian Hartmann’s stage adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Ring - aka Apparat - composed the score without any reference to Hartmann’s production at all, instead locking a string section into a factory to sculpt the motifs. Understandably, when the dust had settled on the production, Apparat’s yearning still embered, and a desire to bloom these motifs into full-compositions took over.
Collaboration suits Apparat. As splendid past hook-ups with Ellen Allien and Modeselektor attest, Sascha Ring’s muse is often at its most productive when it’s given a helping tickle by others. This time, he’s got a 30-piece orchestra and an avant-garde German theatre director along for the ride, and the results are quite stunning. This 10-track accompaniment to a performance of Tolstoy’s War And Peace (yes, really) is sparse on beats but heavy on reverb-soaked drama – not ‘dance’ music by any stretch of the imagination, but beautiful all the same.
There is a level of expectation with a piece of work like Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre) that threatens to color the experience of listening to it. It's a reminder that what we bring to a piece of music shapes how we listen. In the crudest of terms, it's an album adapted from a score for a piece of theatre based on novel responding to a historical event.
Carefully crafted soundscapes. Delicate melodies, intricately interwoven. Gossamer-thin percussion tracks, pushed to the rear of the mix like so many barely tolerated guests. This isn’t the Apparat of 2001 – the young techno pretender whose bread and butter was beats; whose natural home was the heaving, throbbing dance floor.
The last time we heard from Apparat, faces were quite literally melted. I’m of course referring to “Goodbye”, the mournful highlight of his 2011 studio LP The Devil’s Walk, which was used as the background music to Gus Fring’s slow-mo walk to his final encounter with Walter White in the unforgettable season 4 finale of Breaking Bad. That season found the program at its most tense and explosive, and “Goodbye”—while perhaps too much of a dead giveaway with its title—was a perfectly timed moment of Zen-like tranquility before Walt took Gus’s face… off.
Sebastian Hartmann tapped Sascha Ring, aka Apparat, to provide music for his theatrical adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. For four weeks, Ring and a 30-piece group of instrumentalists, including close associates Christoph Hartmann and Philipp Timm, created the material and rehearsed in an abandoned factory building. Up to the conclusion of the production, there was no intent to release the music in any form, but Ring, Hartmann, and Timm opted to shape the performances into an Apparat album.
Anyone who’s attempted to read Tolstoy’s War and Peace will tell you that it’s a mighty task, and more a journey than a read. Even more arduous must be the attempt to create the score to not only accompany the novel, but to even try to meet its brilliance. With Krieg und Frieden (aka Music for Theatre), electronic craftsman Sasha Ring, better known as Apparat, plucks Tolstoy’s themes and his own sensory prowess, crafting them into an auditory work worthy of poetic acclaim.
In order to fully enjoy Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre), all you need is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a scene. Any scene will do, really. It could be as simple as watching people wait for transit, or perhaps people-watching at your favourite corner. Where you choose to observe is irrelevant, but don’t skimp out on the headphones.