So what exactly is an Apparatjik? Where can I get one? Does it come with various color options? These are the very important questions I first considered upon receiving this assignment (I’m sure you harbored similar ones as well). Never fear! I’m going to explain all of this and more. But first and foremost: Apparatjik is one of those fancy supergroup things that musicians do when they’re all well and famous because of the band that drove them to the top and perhaps bored by working within those same boundaries – and wow is this one weird.
Apparatjik consists of Guy Berryman (bassist from Coldplay), Magne Furuholmen (guitarist/keyboardist from A-Ha), Jonas Bjerre (singer/guitarist from Mew), and Martin Terefe (a producer of popular, frequently British things, such as James Morrison). So, okay, fine, it sounds kind of awesome. Coldplay as a band, I can take or leave, but I have some serious love for both A-Ha and Mew. These four individuals first came to work together on a song for a charity album of all things – the track they came up with was called “Ferreting” and can be found on the Survival International Songs for Survival compilation. The band liked working together so much that they continued to meet in the studio and push the limits not only on themselves as songwriters and performers, but on the very music industry in which they have been so involved for so long.
Take a look at their website, for example. It’s not exactly what one would call “typical” in any sense of the word. Nothing is made clear in terms of its operation – instead, it encourages you to explore and click around blindly until you are able to discern some kind of pattern. At the very least, it’s visually pleasing while it frustrates you. Their second album (and subject of this review) Square Peg in a Round Hole was initially released as a free iPad application. After that, it became part of a project called agreeneryouniverse as a free gift for donations to encourage tree planting across the world. Now, it remains available to the general public much like any other album.
So now, the big question: what does an Apparatjik sound like?
Honestly, it sounds pretty much exactly like what you’d expect. Lots of bleeps and boops, lots of synthesizer sounds, overall very modern and very Swedish – you know what I mean. They could play this album in IKEA. I’m going to go ahead and assign this as the official album of IKEA. It will play every time you open your catalog to enhance your browsing experience. This isn’t even really a criticism, because most of the songs on this album are really fun. Spacey, inventive – a weird mixture of sounds from the 80s, DEVO outfits, and Doctor Who plot lines. “Combat Disco” would be a particularly apt example of that description.
Overall, I really wouldn’t mind hearing an Apparatjik song come on in the club. Hopefully it would be a scenario in which I am wearing an appropriate amount of glitter and somebody is hula-hooping in the corner, but I’d take it regardless of the package. Apparatjik impresses me because it really is a bold move for established musicians to take, especially when they are established in decidedly different genres. You can tell that these guys are having a majorly good time creating and performing these songs, showing off their ability to be weird and fun as well as talented.
With that said, I’m going to go out and purchase a glittery spacesuit. See you at the combat disco.A-Ha, Apparatjik, Coldplay, DEVO, Doctor Who, Mew