Sascha Ring pitches up in Apparat guise with a wonderful new album. 'The Devil's Walk' finds him exploring new sonic territory without compromising his electronic dance credentials. He would seem to have taken time out to reflect on the nature of his muse and returns with music possessed of a gentler and more soulful calibre than he has delivered before. The ten tracks in this collection are high on reflection and emotion. It is the finest work he has so-far produced.
If the haunting composition 'Goodbye' were the only one at our disposal I would be satisfied. The eerie presence of Austrian singer Anja Plaschg, aka Soap & Skin, (please, please do listen to her 2009 album 'Lovetune For Vacuum'!) made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The dark arrangement moves forward at the pace of a heartbeat; Ms Plaschg's world-weary vocal barely stirring the air around it. A desolate joy!
It's not all about shadows and scratchings in a closed tomb however. Once 'Song Of Los' gets its skates on we are transported to a land of light and uplifting beauty where even dance is possible. Mr Ring, both here and elsewhere has a truly lovely voice. Sweet, sweet melancholy.
The faltering rhythm of 'Candil De La Calle' is another highlight. The dream-like ambience is shot through with luminous synth chords and a simple but affecting octave-spaced two-part harmony. A song to warm the blood. 'Escape', too, glimmers like a lone candle in a window guiding us safely home. The touching melody, evocative lyrics and sublime string setting conveys one of the loveliest inventions I have heard this year. A song to cherish! Not far behind it 'The Soft Voices Die' (those glorious strings again!) touches a nerve deep in the human spirit and generates a palpable sense of hope. 'Ash/Black Veil' explores a somewhat different sonic landscape; all skittering percussion, moody piano and a plaintive high-flung vocal from Mr Ring on top form. Final track 'Your House Is My World' is a touching hymn for a godless world.
(The download edition contains an extra track, 'Ladies', which sets another ethereal vocal afloat on a sea of turbulent percussion, grumbling bass and affectionate nods and winks to prog-rock. A worthy addition if MP3's are your thing!)
'The Devil's Walk', with its many wonders, is an album to pass by at your peril!