Switched on – Apparat: Soundtracks: Dämonen (It’s Complicated Records)

What’s the story?

This is the third release in a series of soundtrack recordings from Apparat, aka Sascha Ring – who has made a name of himself as an accomplished instrumental music writer. This piece of work dates from 2015, when Apparat wrote and performed the score to a theatre play of Dostoevsky’s Demons, directed by Sebastian Hartmann.

Sascha wrote the sound- track and performed live in Frankfurt with Philipp Thimm and Christoph Hamann as Apparat. He then re-recorded and arranged this release with Thimm in his Berlin studio.

Dämonen is Apparat’s second collaboration with Hartmann – the first, Krieg und Frieden (Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace), has been released on Mute.

What’s the music like?

Hartmann described Apparat’s working style as ‘no beating about the bush, no fussing about frills – just working together and getting something done – staying inspired.

That approach comes across in the music for Dämonen, setting the scenes with economy and effectiveness, and never resorting to overindulgence. There are some moments where Apparat invokes the spirit of Hans Zimmer, for example in the closing scene Amos where the radiant textures are boosted by intelligent writing for the organ. Habakuk, too, has a swell and shimmer that we would associate with the older composer, but it is never derivative – Apparat’s harmonic language is very clearly his own.

The cello plays a leading role here, taking charge in Hosea and Jona, where it adds a strong melodic profile. By contrast Sacharja is a lovely, intimate scene with plucked strings, drawing the ear with its changing in mood and colour. The piano plays a subtle but important part in Maleachi, setting a slightly ominous pulse.

Does it all work?

It does. Less is definitely more in the writing here, and Apparat uses texture and harmony to get many of his deeper thoughts. The cello elevates the music wherever it appears, while the more brooding numbers such as Hosea do make a strong impact without obvious melodic material to match on to.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Sascha Ring has always written music of great depth under his Apparat alias, and he is perfectly suited to film or theatre – or both. Even if you don’t know the story of Dämonen, the music will tell you a good deal of what you need to know.