Although he released a very limited disc of techno in 1998, Apparat first truly landed in the year 2000 with his debut release Algorythm. Since that time, he has put out a couple more albums, a couple EPs, and loads of various tracks for compilations on different labels. The Silizium EP is his newest effort and by far his most composed and unique, as he teams up with a duo of string players (on violin and cello), singer Raz Ohara, and clarinet/sax player Hormel Eastwood. The result is something that sounds like the glitchy work of Apparat past, but also moves with a newfound human element that works well at times and is completely stunning at others.
The EP is actually a studio recreation of a May 2004 Peel Session that Apparat did, and the studio time obviously gave him a bit more room to expand and flesh tracks out. The glitchy "Introduction" opens the release in a way that is familiar as crisp programming slams with hard beats and filtered melodies try to escape. "Komponent" continues down the same path at first, with warm melodies and cracking beat programming, but is soon augmented with vocals by Ohara that work quite well. The track builds and progresses with strings and horns and is some of the best vocal-based electronic pop I've heard since DNTEL's excellent Life Is Full Of Possibilities.
It's not even the best track on the short release, though, as the title track of "Silizium" again brings the organic elements of horns and strings to the front of the excellent production for an instrumental track that breaths with life. "Not A Good Place" unfortunately gets a bit more by-the-numbers as dark guitars strum and the vocals by Ohara get a bit too overenthusiastic and threaten to overshadow the more delicate parts of the track. All is redeemed, though, on "It's Gonna Be A Long Walk," which is probably one of the best electronic pop tracks I've heard in years. Opening with sputtering beats, filtered strings and quiet breathy vocals by Ohara, the middle section of the piece drifts off to a beautiful string and glitchy electronic atmosphere before the closing part of the track turns into an almost dancey affair with cracking beats, an infectious bassline and clouds of filtered strings.
The rest of the EP is filled-out a bit by remixes from different artists, but only the dub-inflected version of the instrumental "Silizium" (by Bus) sticks out at all. In stretching the original to over twice its length, the remix is alternately spacey and thumping while still retaining what was excellent about it in the first place. All in all, the release shows Apparat isn't willing to simply be lumped in with the endless hoards of knob-twiddlers. It doesn't always work (and a couple of the remixes don't really offer much), but with nine tracks and forty minutes of music (plus a video), it's definitely worth having if you enjoy his past work and want to see him moving beyond it (or if you simply enjoy good electronic pop music.