The four organists in the band, Jóhann, Úlfur, Hörður, and Musíkvatur, use all of their 40 fingers to bring out a dazzling array of sounds from their collection of instruments, which include two Italian Farfisas from the 1960s, a Yamaha, a Hammond, a bass, a Moog and, my personal favorite, the FunMachine by Baldwin. Their gear is somewhat dated (if Robby the Robot were a keyboard), but these clunkers are more than just the instruments; they are the essence of this project. The variety of sounds they are able to create from this mix is remarkable: much of the music explores electronica and can become heavy, but when the band decides to reconceive itself as a rock ‘n’ roll band, they put guitars to shame. Behind some of their finer moments sits drummer Arnar who, despite being the odd man out, provides real lifeblood to the percussionless organs. With their keyboards they are able to achieve hair metal climaxes without so much as plucking a string. Songs like Romantica and Stereo Rock & Roll really take hold of the audience in a way you just don’t expect organs to be able to do.
While the band’s music is anything but bound to the organs, their bodies are. During the show the players can’t really move out from behind their keyboards, which leaves very little room for thrashing about or other stage shenanigans. Úlfur bemoans the plight of the rock organist, “We’re just less physical. It’s harder for us to look cool, so we try to make up for it. We want to indulge our audiences, so we put a lot of work into it.” But if anything, the band looks as cool and collected as funeral directors. There is a certain chic to the organ and they seem to have found it. The stage is decked in golden tinsel, there are loads of colored spots flitting around, and they’ve trumped your run-of-the-mill fog machine with a mighty bubble machine. Staring at them recalls memories of Kraftverk, what with their roboto-dancing, but Apparat has mechanism all its own. I feel I am looking at the future from 1965, and I like what I see. Band members predict that drum machines will take over, Richard Branson’s shuttles to the moon will mark the beginning of a new era in public transportation, and that Yo!tels’ new line of automated, cubicle hotel rooms will be the new way to travel.
Apparat is no cheap date; the band has been known to treat the masses to cigars and honey vodka. An all water-based show is in the works. Apparat laughs in the face of electrocution! Anything for the fans.