Friday, 16 August 2013

New Music: Delicate Apparatus

Delicate Apparatus

Delicate Apparatus are an unsigned ambient project fronted by Chris Newman and Timo Bauer, both of whom may be better known to you from their alter egos Crypton Radio Club and Bluten Geist. They have recently released their debut album via SoundCloud, which can be downloaded for free for (possibly) a limited time right now.

The album starts with some slide guitar reminiscent of Daniel Lanois’ work with Brian Eno in the early 80’s, in fact Eno is a common touchpoint throughout the album and the mighty bald Bofop’s late 70’s and early 80’s ambient experiments are echoed in many of this album’s 9 tracks. “Movin’ to Cassini” starts slowly then with the aforementioned slide guitar before moving towards a melody not a million miles away from the recent Daft Punk single “Get Lucky” with rich strings, syncopated guitar and washes of white noise.

Track two, “Sleepy Sun” is a sci-fi interlude, which like the preceding track, and the rest of the album, is beatless and reminds me in flavour of The Grid before they discovered the dancefloor.

“Star Systems” carries on where “Sleepy Sun” left off but introduces some sweet synth arpeggios which gives the listener the feeling of moving through an alien, yet benign landscape….very pretty….and very laid back.

“You Make Me Feel Good” is almost classical in it’s arrangement and structure, and wouldn’t sound out of place running under the credits of a big Hollywood CGI blockbuster, in fact, if James Cameron is looking for someone to score Avatar 2, he could do a lot worse than giving these guys a call.

By the time you get to the half way point, and  “We Are Celestial” you begin to realise that “Delicate Apparatus” is a concept album of sorts: the artificial yet soothing feeling of the album begins to draw you in as your mind adapts a foetal position and the electronic waves of reverb drenched loveliness takes you deeper and deeper into the void.

It’s not all soothing and calm however, “Before and After Forever” despite it’s lullaby like melody, has an unsettling undercurrent of bass menace which builds nicely throughout the track before stopping suddenly, the threat of cacophony fading prematurely, and perhaps a little disappointingly.

“This Lonely Outer Space” and “Hana’ Moon” introduce some beautiful piano into the soundscape, and with the addition of some anonymous dismembered voices (some computer generated, some possibly courtesy of NASA?), seemingly take us to the very edge of the known universe.

This brings to the final track “Human or Humane?” featuring more organic sounds (panpipes?), and the child from Aliens reminding us that we “better get back ‘cos it’ll be dark soon and they mostly come out at night” This track possibly tells us that no matter how much we wish to explore the unknown in search of beauty and peace, the reality is that these things can be found much closer to home, and out there in the darkness there be monsters!

Obviously, with no vocals and only titles to go on, this is all really subjective, and purely my interpretation of the album on first listening. Your experience will undoubtedly be totally different from the hippy claptrap I’ve been spouting! The bottom line is, if you like your mood music without spikes, bleeps or percussion. And if you’re partial to early ambient pioneers like Cluster, Popol Vuh, Carl Weingarten and of course Eno himself, you’d be well advised to search out this subtle, yet immersive journey of an album, don a pair of headphones, and drift off into the cosmos…. Just remember to come back before it gets dark!

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