Old Apparatus – Derren review

Having previously been most readily associated with Mala’s Deep Medi Musik, much to the befuddlement of purist dubstep heads everywhere, Old Apparatus are now striking out on their own with their freshly minted Sullen Tone imprint. It’s an apt name for the stable they will now choose to call home, as there’s rarely much joviality to be found in the murky underbelly of electronic composition Old Apparatus inhabit.

There are plenty of moments on Derren where you can hear discernible links to the UK bass world that Old Apparatus seem have slid out from under. “Dealow” has a tribal-industrial rattle that captures the finest dread-fuelled DMZ workouts, falling around the 140 bpm mark without making it too obvious. Likewise “Bodah” starts off with amiable intentions to provide you with a tangible groove to latch onto by means of a minimal yet very present beat, but it soon falls away into a quagmire of distant bass muffles and atmospheric disturbance.

Truth be told, if you’re looking for something to hold on to in Old Apparatus’ music then you might be best of looking elsewhere. Title track “Derren” is about as straightforward as the shadowy producer(s) get, with a lilting woodblock ticking away behind haunted flecks of guitar as a backdrop to the reverb drenched vocals. It’s thoroughly autumnal in its disposition, albeit brightened by the mechanical whirrings of high-pitched micro-samples.

What makes this EP so engrossing is the deft crossover between organic and electronic; it’s nigh on impossible to tell where the found sound ends and the synthesised tone begins, but the cumulative effect has such a claustrophobic unease that you’re left feeling it comes from some netherworldly portal between the two. There’s also a staggering dynamism to these tracks; they rarely sit still on the same idea for long before turning down another darkened corner where the walls crawl with forlorn drones and wraith-like percussion hovers in and around you.

This may all sound like trite descriptive flexing but there’s such an inescapable evocative quality to Old Apparatus that you can’t help but reach for all the horror-fuelled similies you can muster. If you aren’t one for getting thrills from art scaring you, then there’s every chance you would banish this record to a tomb, say ten Hail Marys and hope it lies undisturbed for eternity (or until a hapless group of teenagers looking for a make-out spot stumble upon it). However if the allure of the dark side is of interest, then you’ll take great pleasure in submitting yourself to the morbid incantation  Old Apparatus have to offer.

Oli Warwick


Tracklisting:

A1. Zimmer
A2. Derren
B1. Dealow
B2. Bodah