Ove su godine Old Apparatus već izdali tri EP-a, za svakog člana benda po jedan (slijedi i četvrti). Tri različita istraživanja zvučnih kontinenata u zraku, sva tri izvrsna. Od melodičnog epskog dubstepa do steampunk struje polusvijesti. Htjeli su svemir zamijeniti mlijekom.
Realise EPThe second EP salvo on the Old Apparatus collective's recently minted Sullen Tone label, and it's quality all the way, this time credited as the solo work (more or less) of LTO . 'Chicago' ain't no acid house jam, rather it's a grave little number propelled by maudlin piano arpeggios and chopped-up steppers' drums - if you've been digging Four Tet and Burial's recent gear, you'll dig this, it has a similar balance of melodic drama and dancefloor fire. 'Found' and the more subdued 'Realise' nod to second generation IDM and Warp Records, numerous acoustic and electronic elements woven into expansive, beautifully textured tapestries, at once contributing to and buffeted by compellingly abstract, unpredictable rhythms. The scuttling, crepuscular electro of 'Holding' provides the highlight for us: it has a truly sinister edge to it, with hints of the more low-slung among AFX's Analord productions, and even some well-turned noir-jazz flourishes a la Photek.- boomkat
As anyone who may have read their recent interview with FACT will know, Old Apparatus seem to be a collective with a desire to present themselves as a singular unit; going far beyond the cult of anonymity that many contemporary producers adopt, Old Apparatus wished only in the interview to be referred to as OA1, OA2, OA3 and OA4 – not only making the interview somewhat challenging to read, but seemingly placing them in the context of an experiment in musical collectivism where each member’s individuality is willingly surrendered. It’s interesting then, that Realise – the second release for their own Sullen Tone imprint – is the first of three EPs, sanctioned by the collective whole and produced by individual members of the group. Attributed only to “LTO”, it provides an intriguing way of presenting one of the group’s individual influences.
For a collective that rose to prominence on a dubstep label, and is known for weaving a patchwork sound out of knackered sub-bass, industrial death rattles and the ambience of post-punk and classic 4AD records, opening track “Chicago” is something of a surprise. With a piano refrain and 4/4 kick that references the house music of its namesake, you’re drawn into a parallel dimension of deep house, albeit one where Coki is the primary influence; its increasingly manic ivory rattle pushing against its growling low-end like two creaking tectonic plates pushing against each other. “Found” is the release of that energy; a lighter track in tone and rhythm, it hovers in some hinterland between calypso-infused reggae and Autonomic drum & bass, complete with percussion that rattles like a steampunk pinball machine; “Holding” expands on this, juxtaposing the breakbeats of classic 90s IDM with crawling drones and cavernous brass. It’s interesting that for a group whose sound has been characterised by its stifling fog of atmospheric pressure, “Holding” should display such mathematical precision, and like Drukqs-era Aphex Twin, it combines the antiquated with the wildly futuristic – something that is also evident on closer “Realise”, a swelling, synthetic composition that combines Medieval tones with the sounds of the rushing of air filling a vacuum.
Across the four tracks, the Old Apparatus sound is still intact – but there’s a more tangible synthetic element present; much like the record’s artwork, depicting a human head whose exposed skin reveals a matrix of sinew and circuitry, Realise is an arcane hybrid of inert flesh and electrical impulses. More than this however, the music functions like the cross-section lovingly illustrated on its cover, providing a new way of understanding the inner workings of this most close-guarded of collectives. If this truly is the sound of “LTO”, then it provides the most striking example of the Old Apparatus sound to date – and we should be particularly thankful that the collective has broken rank.
Another dose of heavy, dream-catching material from Old Apparatus on their Sullen Tone label, this time credited to A. Levitas. 'Boxcat's' wonky shuffle springs out of layers of bucolic field recordings and is an engaging opener, but it's 'Schwee' that is the undeniable centre-piece of the EP - indeed it's what one of the best things OA have put out to date, all sighing synths, serene vocal pressure and spring-loaded steppers' drums. 'Cauliroot' is Boards of Canada atmospherics refracted through a DMZ-generation sensibility, while 'Coalapps''s elegiac organ tones do nothing to diminish its palpable club ambitions. Still, this is deep stuff, more suited to the headphones than to the 'floor, offering up new detail and new pleasure with each successive listen. 'Lingle' rounds off the EP in sepulchral, decidedly post-Burial fashion - it's probably the closest thing on here to the collective's much-loved Deep Medi debut.- boomkat
The ‘Alfur’ EP is the second in the trilogy of records written by individual members of the Old Apparatus collective, which will be released in three month-by-month instalments. ‘Alfur’, produced by A. Levitas, offers a view of the rusted Old Apparatus universe from another angle; a suite of songs that weave together deep feeling and influence into a complex and very listenable EP, built for deep listening at loud volumes. ‘Alfur’ is a mystical, deeply atmospheric five track set, recalling the spooked ambience of Third Eye Foundation and earlier Tricky material, with gauzy layers filtered through electronica and hip hop’s modern digital mechanics.
The EP opens with the ambient birdsong, skewered chorales, and stumbling beats of ‘Boxcat’, then slides into ‘Schwee’ with its hazy stew of chilly, sustained chords, pitchshifted vocals and smudgy kicks. Opening side two, ‘Cauliroot’ mixes shimmering distant bells, jungle atmospherics, dubbed out drums and big bass. Next, ‘Coalapps’ sounds like the rainy shoegaze of Slowdive or Jesu rubbing up against 2-step influenced electronica, before ‘Lingle’ closes proceedings with lulling pitchshifted loops of voices over a slow, marching beat, marking a strange and dreamy outro to another great addition to the increasingly remarkable Old Apparatus canon. - www.normanrecords.com
Alfur, Old Apparatus's third release in three months, finds production duties handed to member A. Levitas. Exactly how many people make up the East London electronic collective is unknown, but it's clear that Levitas sees a lot more light in the group's corroded world than member LTO, who marshaled last month's Realise. Whereas that EP and the collaborative Derren were inventive, dark, and brooding, Alfur buzzes with optimism while maintaining the spikiness of its predecessors.From its familiar-sounding white-noise intro, Alfur quickly becomes more energized and immediate than Old Apparatus's last two EPs. The bulk of the tracks here feel like compensation for the raggedness of the previous releases: "Schwee" is the closest to conventional dubstep Old Apparatus has gotten, with an aggressive bassline that could have been lifted from a Skrillex track. The melody gets boosted to the point of distortion, fighting against chants and clouds of static. On "Coalapps," the mood gets sunnier as waves of harpsichord intertwine with shimmering pads, creating a warm vibe that Levitas underscores with gently lolling sirens.
Alfur's achievement isn't that it represents a shift in tone for Old Apparatus, but that Levitas is able to indulge his ideas without compromising his group's established rough-hewn sound. Levitas acknowledges the gloom of the last two EPs, tweaking the Old Apparatus formula and bending it in a new direction. This can be best heard on standout "Cauliroot," where rain and wind chimes give way to hissing, sliding beats, and vocals that rise in and out of plucked piano strings, a fog of bass behind them. It plays brilliantly to the group's strengths and blends a club-ready rhythm with clanging metal tubes and wildlife sounds. The concluding "Lingle" eases us back into the darkness by playing a deep, cinematic bassline over vibrating planks. The EP completes this third entry in Old Apparatus's unbroken run of unique, immersive electronica. - George Bass
DerrenOld Apparatus are one of strangest, most compelling mutations to emerge from the post-Dubstep fallout of recent years. After early offerings on Deep Medi, and more recently remixing Shangaan Electro, they've decamped to their own label, Sullen Tone, which seems the wisest option for their uncategorised, outsider hybrid of electro-acoustic symphonics, synthesized space/Bass music and fractured folk-pop. With this broad-minded scope they relate an immersive, near-cinematic narrative, sweeping us across stormy strings and elemental bass surges into pastoral bliss zones on 'Zimmer', and on through the broken soul mechanics of the title track, sounding like the experiments of Thom Yorke and Four Tet deemed too dark for release. Deeper in, 'Dealow' displays the sheer percussive prowess which made their eponymous debut such a shocker, conjuring voudoo steppers drums and flickering ghostly voices from the ether, before 'Bodah' extrudes your mind thru dense and claustrophobic electro-acoustics. Together with the artwork, it amounts to a most crucial package for fans of owt from Demdike Stare to The Haxan Cloak, Roly Porter or Emptyset. - boomkat
Anyone who heard Old Apparatus’ self-titled debut for Deep Medi Musik knows how hard they came out swinging. Its searing, visceral, high-drama sound was completely different from the label’s dubstep-centric fare, heavily textured and infused with a raw, post-industrial menace. Its follow-up, Zebulon, was met with a lukewarm reception, and rightfully so — both tracks featured vocalists (an MC and a folk singer), and as such the production was pared back, only meagerly hinting at the strength of its predecessor. A subsequent remix of Shangaan Electro went for a lumbering, pitch-shifted approach, not far removed from the Tri Angle sound. Derren, their first EP for On Sullen Tone, follows that track’s trajectory.
The alternately brooding and ferocious grimness that marked their debut is evolving into a more melancholy, pop-inspired sound. This is evidenced on the title track, which moves in cute micro-steps that recall Mount Kimbie, marked with bits of jangling guitar and a mopey male vocal. On “Dealow” the duo find mileage in a calling card of witch house and Burial alike — reverb-drenched, pitched-down vocals — by placing them on broken drums and forlorn synthetic smoke. Like their debut, Derren seems in part composed as a suite, as much about bridging atmospheric movements as it is straight-up tracks. For example, the plaintive shuffle that opens “Bodah” soon dissolves into unstable ambience, while the streaky, cinematic strings that open “Zimmer” become twinkling ripples of timeworn piano. Derren itself is a bridge between Old Apparatus’ caustic industrial and moody pop sides, but their original mission statement still looms large over their work, and they have yet to match it. - Steve Kerr
Having previously been most readily associated with Mala’s Deep Medi Musik, much to the befuddlement of purist dubstep heads everywhere, Old Apparatus are now striking out on their own with their freshly minted Sullen Tone imprint. It’s an apt name for the stable they will now choose to call home, as there’s rarely much joviality to be found in the murky underbelly of electronic composition Old Apparatus inhabit.
There are plenty of moments on Derren where you can hear discernible links to the UK bass world that Old Apparatus seem have slid out from under. “Dealow” has a tribal-industrial rattle that captures the finest dread-fuelled DMZ workouts, falling around the 140 bpm mark without making it too obvious. Likewise “Bodah” starts off with amiable intentions to provide you with a tangible groove to latch onto by means of a minimal yet very present beat, but it soon falls away into a quagmire of distant bass muffles and atmospheric disturbance.
Truth be told, if you’re looking for something to hold on to in Old Apparatus’ music then you might be best of looking elsewhere. Title track “Derren” is about as straightforward as the shadowy producer(s) get, with a lilting woodblock ticking away behind haunted flecks of guitar as a backdrop to the reverb drenched vocals. It’s thoroughly autumnal in its disposition, albeit brightened by the mechanical whirrings of high-pitched micro-samples.
What makes this EP so engrossing is the deft crossover between organic and electronic; it’s nigh on impossible to tell where the found sound ends and the synthesised tone begins, but the cumulative effect has such a claustrophobic unease that you’re left feeling it comes from some netherworldly portal between the two. There’s also a staggering dynamism to these tracks; they rarely sit still on the same idea for long before turning down another darkened corner where the walls crawl with forlorn drones and wraith-like percussion hovers in and around you.
This may all sound like trite descriptive flexing but there’s such an inescapable evocative quality to Old Apparatus that you can’t help but reach for all the horror-fuelled similies you can muster. If you aren’t one for getting thrills from art scaring you, then there’s every chance you would banish this record to a tomb, say ten Hail Marys and hope it lies undisturbed for eternity (or until a hapless group of teenagers looking for a make-out spot stumble upon it). However if the allure of the dark side is of interest, then you’ll take great pleasure in submitting yourself to the morbid incantation Old Apparatus have to offer. - Oli Warwick
Machine-tooled Dubstep mysteries from Deep Medi, delivering the 2nd Old Apparatus session. It may or not be Mala behind this, we couldn't confirm, but in place of personal identities we find some fairly massive sounds. The A-side 'Zebulon' strikes a fine equilibrium between plunging, hollowed subs, shattering aerial snares and bewitching folk vocal, ultimately sounding like an updated Vex'd line-stepping with Clouds at the village hop, circa 2020. Effectively, the flip is an augmented version of the B-side from the 1st Old Apparatus, meshing a vocal from Mowgli with expanded synthlines to dramatic, gripping standards. Ace artwork too, as per. Don't sleep! - boomkat
Dreader-than-dread dubstep abstractions from the much murmured-about Old Apparatus. Deep Medi have seriously opened the field with this 12", exploring a darkside realm of post-dubstep noise-sculpting/sound design posited somewhere in the midst of Chasing Voices, Burial and old-style Vex'd. Nobody bar the label knows who's behind it, but that only amplifies its enigmatic aura. The A-side builds from a squall of distortion into cataclysmic bassline worship sounding like Stephen O'Malley jamming with Mala while insectoid percussion etches skeletal surface patterns and the rhythm unfolds like something from the Anstam archives. The B-side is weirder still, a multi-sided geometric construction unstably morphing from ecstatic dubstep noise to Raime-like halfstep industrial dystopia, with an added welt of blackened distortion. This is f**king brilliant. Highly recommended! - boomkat
Who are Old Apparatus? Very little is known. Signed to Mala’s Deep Medi Musik label, home of serious bass-heavy sound system music, so far this enigmatic East London collective have released a twenty-minute promo mix and two vinyl-only records. Their debut self-titled 12” came out in January 2011, four unnamed tracks of abstract sound with deep, fuzzed-out bass lines, crackling static ambience and ominous Burial-like rimshots. Heavy dread-filled vibes all the way. This killer first release was followed six months later by an equally impressive two track 10”. The A-side, “Zebulon”, mixes trademark Deep Medi beats with plunging subs and a floating female vocal sample, whilst the B-side features the remix of a track from their debut 12”, adding a rap from Mowgli. One thing’s for sure, even with this small amount of music, Old Apparatus have made a lot of noise. - www.last.fm/
The hitherto incognito London collective made a significant impact on the underground with their 2010 debut EP, a 12″ record housed in a thick, screen-printed sleeve and scant information about the recording or the personnel. The fact that it came courtesy of Mala’s Deep Medi Musik label suggested an allegiance to dubstep, but the EP’s four tracks roamed far wider than that, with elements of blunted hip-hop, ghostly R&B, noise, industrial, techno and even post-rock. The hip-hop component was more pronounced on the follow-up 12″, ‘Zebulon’, which featured vocals from British MC Mowgli.
2012 has seen Old Apparatus launched their own label, Sullen Tone, with the Derren EP. They’re set to follow this fine collaborative effort with three solo (but group-approved) releases: the first of these, Realise, is credited to LTO and is due out on September 10.
At the height of Olympic fever last week, FACT’s Richard Rossiter had a quick pint in Soho with Old Apparatus’s four members to find out a little more about the genesis of Old Apparatus and Sullen Tone, and their ambitions for both entities going forward. They asked if we’d refrain from using their real names, but also didn’t want to use any aliases – so for convenience’s sake we’ve chosen to refer to them as OA1, OA2, OA3 and OA4.
“It’s been an instinctive process, driven largely by the artwork.”So how did the four of you come to work together?
OA1: “We were all doing our own thing to start with, and we all appreciated what each other were doing, and sharing music and sharing artwork and ideas and just feeding off each other, and we just thought from that, well, why don’t we put it all together and make something out of it? To start with it was just a way of motivating each other to produce more work and get to the most out of what we were doing on our own.
OA2: “[OA1] and I are brothers, we grew up together. We’ve known [OA3] since primary school, we lived in the same area. We met [OA4] a bit later on.”
OA1: “I ended up living with [OA3]…”
OA3: “…About a year before the first record, I guess. We happened to move into the same place, and we were both making tunes, showing each other what we were doing, getting inspired to do stuff by each other. So yeah, we said, let’s do something. But that’s the most conscious thought there’s been throughout the whole process: that initial, ‘Your tunes are heavy, let’s do something’, and from then on it’s been an instinctive process, driven largely by the artwork. That came first. There were sounds, but they weren’t fully formed, they were just taking shape; then we saw what [OA1] was doing with the artwork, the initial artwork that you saw on the website and the first record. It very much formed around that aesthetic.”
OA2: “It was largely unspoken, we just shared a lot of interests and it happened quite naturally.”
OA3: “We hit a vibe, that was it.”
OA4: “We were all used to working alone, we were all bedroom producers, and it was quite refreshing being able to share what we were doing – with someone who’s more than a listener, and who can actually help expand what you’re trying to do.”
“We’re the kind of people who like to be involved with every part of the process.”It’s refreshing to encounter a group in electronic music; for various reasons, not least economic, we live in a world of solo artists. Which can’t be healthy.
OA3: “I think you can hear when an artist has been working alone. Of course there are people who can step outside of themselves to listen to what they’re doing, but they’re rare…”
OA2: “That said, the tracks on each record generally come from one of us, though we each had an input. But they were written individually, and so we thought with Sullen Tone it would be good to make a feature of that rather than trying to botch them all together.
OA1: “Throughout the three records you’ll hear the contrast and variation – the tracks work together, even though they’re quite different in sound; you hear the characteristics of each of the producers coming through, I think.”
That was what was so striking about the first Old Apparatus 12″ – it felt like an album’s worth of ideas compressed into two shape-shifting tracks.
OA3: “They started out as separate tracks, but bringing them together was something we really wanted to do, to blur the lines a bit.”
OA2: “As with our mixes we’ve done, where we try to go on a seamless journey though different sonic worlds, we took that same principle and tried to apply that to the records. Obviously you’ve got to flip the record over at some point though… [laughs]”
“The live scene in London’s a bit weird…it can be counterproductive.”I’m sure that won’t bother the large majority of Old Apparatus fans who illegally download your music and listen to it on their computers.
OA3: “[Laughs] We have to compromise to fit it on vinyl, because I’d rather it was a continuous experience, to be honest.”
What kind of music did you bond over?
OA2: “Different things really. We all have diverse interests, but there’s a lot of overlap. [OA4]‘s really into UK hip-hop, that’s how the Mowgli connection came about. I guess I’ve always been into Warp-style electronica, post-rock music, that sort of thing. Like [OA3].
OA3: “Yeah, Kranky and Constellation Records were big for us.”
Why did you decide to launch your own label?
OA3: “We’re the kind of people who like to be involved with every part of the process, so it just made perfect sense. Working with Deep Medi was great though – Mala and Kris, the guy who runs the label, were both so supportive and willing to put up with even our most stupid and expensive ideas [laughs].”
Is it an outlet solely for your own music?
OA4: “We hope to put out music by other people in the future, but for the time being it’s just going to be us, yeah.”
You’ve been quite quiet on the gigging front recently, right? There was a flurry of gigs last year, I remember, including a support for Fennesz in London…
OA3: “We played about 13 shows, yeah.”
OA2: “We played some really good ones towards the end – the ECO festival in Madrid, and then LEV.”
OA1: “Recently though we’ve just been concentrating on trying to get Sullen Tone off the ground.”
OA3: “‘Cos it’s so much hassle… [laughs]”
OA4: “We wanted to take a break to start up the label and work on new material. But now we’re trying to get a live plan together.
OA2: “We like to have the visual side of things sorted.”
“It was just about how we could put the material across in the best way possible, without cheating ourselves or other people.”OA1: “We get a lot of requests to play small shows in Dalston and things like that, and fair dos to the people putting on those kinds of shows, but I think we want to get the most out of what we prepared – we’ve spent a lot of time preparing our live show and we don’t want to turn up at a pub venue without any bassbins, know what I mean? [laughs]”
OA3: “The live scene in London’s a bit weird…it’s a little bit in its own world, at least in some parts of London. And even though you’re playing shows you’re not necessarily progressing. It can be quite counterproductive.”
How’s the live show developing?
OA3: “Initially, it was just about how we could put the material across in the best way possible, without cheating ourselves or other people.”
OA4: “We’ve expanded since then, we’ve got more live instruments: [OA3]‘s playing guitar, [OA2]‘s on the keyboard, and we’re triggering more stuff live. We’ve got it to where we wanted to be from the very beginning, really. It’s not so fixed.”
OA1: “You go and see a lot of producers that you like in a live setting and I feel like sometimes I want more, in the electronic music realm anyway. We’re trying to push ourselves out of that comfort zone.”
OA4: “But still wanting to give a good show.”
OA3: “Yeah, we don’t want to be being overly experimental or alienating people just for our own gratification – that’s the worst thing. So it’s kind of a balancing act.”
OA2: “With our first few gigs it was more about subtle automation, re-triggering things, playing with MIDI controllers and stuff – but we really want to bring more of that physicality that you get from a rock group.”
“We don’t want to be being overly experimental or alienating people just for our own gratification – that’s the worst thing.”There needs to be an element of risk to make a live show worth watching, I find.
OA2: “Well it’s all about the fear isn’t it? Without that fear it’s just not very interesting.”
Well yeah, and I think you need to fear something greater than just your MacBook freezing…
OA4: “That’s the worst kind of fear! [laughs]”
OA1: “Well, you want to be doing a show where even if your MacBook freezes you can still be making music.”
OA2: “That’s why we’ve got these other sound sources now. We don’t want every sound you hear to be coming from one laptop. We can always play around, maybe improvise a little bit if something does happen.”
You mentioned the visuals were an important part of the live performances. Is that your area, OA1?
OA1: “Yeah…I’m a designer by trade, and I like to have projects on the go outside of my dayjob. Initially it was just that, a project: we were getting together, these guys were making music and I had something to put into that. For me it was a personal thing, and from that, I began developing what I’m doing. I’m getting into illustration, video-making now. Looking at a lot of scientific archival footage.”
OA3: “The first video was for a track off the EP – he [OA1] spent three months with a friend of ours filming that. It looks like planets, but it’s actually milk and food colouring, completely manipulated. That’s the kind of level he’s operating on [laughs].
OA1: “Video was something that I’d always wanted to do, and it’s new to me. At the beginning it was very leisurely and there was a lot of time to experiment. I wanted basically to replicate the universe..”
“I’m sure there’s lot of people who’d just like to hear the first record replicated, but it’s just not going to happen.”OA3: “…With milk [laughs].”
OA1: “I wanted it to be so epic, like 2001: A Space Odyssey. At that time I was looking at a lot of archival footage of cell division and things like that – I basically got access to the British Medical Association’s library. They’ve got this awesome footage of people swallowing barium that comes up in X-rays, it looks alien-like.
OA3: “There’s a lot of VHS transfer that’s had to be done…”
OA1: “Yeah, and the transfer from one medium to another adds all this great colour and texture.”
OA3: “The visual side of the project is always developing. It’s the same as the music; it’s not going to stay the same. I’m sure there’s lot of people who’d just like to hear the first record replicated, but it’s just not going to happen. That was back then, this is now. It’s just about exploring new ground for yourself.” - Richard Rossiter