There is a sense of heartfelt, raw emotion that underlines each Apparat (aka Berlin’s Sascha Ring). Each album is a bit more earnest than the last, culminating is 2011’s The Devil’s Walk, a record that walks a tightrope of despair and hope. When Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theatre) was announced it was a soundtrack that he had written for German contemporary theatre director Sebastian Hartmann’s production of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Holdup in an abandoned warehouse with a thirty piece orchestra, over the course of four weeks, Ring tackled the soundtrack saying after: “This is anything but conventional theatre. It’s a free space, where a bunch of freaks can go wild. It starts with the lights and stops with the actual actors. At night, we worked on the music in the empty hall. It was kind of magical.”
Expecting to finish after the last live date, there was realization that the songs that made up the soundtrack had come to life of their own. There was an album inside of there. He began tracking the songs off stage with help from cellist Philipp Timm and violinist Christoph Hartmann (who are a part of the Apparat Band). The outcome was ten tracks that showcase what Ring does best, heartfelt and raw emotion, part Devil’s Walk and part Walls (the 2007 Apparat monster album). Ranging from dark soundwave, that at times conjure that of Tim Hecker, to exhaustive uplifting moments like Sigur Rós.
A pair of songs called “44” start the album off, and while the share a name, that is all they have in common. The first is an ardent piece with an soft conversation between old friends. A back and forth dialog from the cello and violin, this segways into the second piece, “44 [Noise Version],” an almost sonic soul-cleansing blast reminiscent in parts of William Basinski but distinctly Ring. There is a distinct tension that takes place throughout the album. Giving a push/pull on the listeners psyche, while creating an air of cohesiveness throughout the album with each new song taking on a bit of its predecessor.
Out of the 10 tracks that make-up the album, there are only two vocal tracks, “Lighton” and “A Violent Sky,” the closer (and not featured in the play itself). Full of swagger, Ring lays lazy vocals over stark musicianship. Lazy isn’t always a bad thing, and these are shining examples.
While painstakingly beautiful, Krieg und Frieden isn’t going to make Apparat a household name. If you take a risk, this is that risk. Subtle, lush and absolute gorgeous, Music For Theatre pays off like very few albums will.