Album If These Walls Could Shut the Hell Up
posted by May 24 at 15:15 PMon
Ellen Allien & Apparat’s Orchestra of Bubbles was one of my favorite albums of last year, a happy wedding of Allien’s vocal techno, Apparat’s refined glitch, and an unexpected bevy of acoustic (or faux-acoustic) instrumentation. So I was thrilled (a little Ellen Allien humor) to hear the same warm acoustics, bright strings, and tinkling synths on “Not A Number”, the kick off of Apparat’s new Shitkatapult album, Walls. And then I listened to the album’s second track, “Hailin From The Edge.”
Vocals aren’t really a new sonic element for Apparat (aka Shitkatapult founder Sascha Ring)—he’s been incorporating them since at least the Sizilium EP, and even scored Bubbles only great pop song with “Leave Me Alone.” But Walls guest vocalist Raz Ohara pulls a kind of Jamie Lidell-esque future soul on songs like “Hailin From the Edge,” “Holdon,” and “Over and Over,” and it doesn’t really do the album many favors. The trite (or possibly just ESL) spoken word and overwrought torch singing on “Over and Over” are especially difficult.
The vocals aren’t all bad. Ring’s falsetto on “Arcadia” fades in and out of the song’s ethereal mix to great effect, “Limelight” effectively cuts and warps voice a la Bubbles’ “Do Not Break”, and “You Don’t Know Me” contains some ghostly moans that I’m still not sure are human. Even Ohara’s restrained speak/singing and soaring chorus are a nice touch on the joyously erupting “Headup” (the quasi-rapping of the song’s conclusion, maybe less so). And the instrumental tracks—”Useless Information,” “Fractales pt. I & II”—are the gorgeous, of course, more of the kind of next-level mini-symphonies that are going to cost Shitkatapult its “bad” name. But, man, when the vocals are bad, they mar what would otherwise be a totally brilliant record and Apparat’s finest solo record to date.