Apparat Organ Quartet
Reykjavík , Iceland
Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, Apparat Organ Quartet is, despite the name, a 5 piece band: 4 keyboardists and 1 drummer.
They sometimes describe their music as „Machine Rock and Roll", and indeed the band’s sound veers between danceable floor-fillers and headbanging anthems, all served with a mixture of Kraftwerk-inspired electronics fused with Daft Punk-like Robot voices and hard-rock drumbeats, with beautifully melancholic melodies soaring over the whole mix. Effortlessly switching between the dancefloor and the mosh-pit, AOQ at times sounds like a more danceable Motorhead - if they had been born in Dusseldorf, and plugged Moogs into their Marshall amps instead of guitars. The band is not afraid of echoing the epic grandeur of 70’s and 80’s stadium rock, but this is always tempered by the band’s metronomic Krautrock sensibilities.
Every note in Apparat Organ Quartet is hand-played, there is not a sequencer or computer in sight. In concert and on record, the band plays keyboards from their extensive collection of Jurassic analog machinery, including Russian synths and customized home organs, ARP’s, Farfisas, malfunctioning Hammonds, vocoders and various circuit-bent Casios and Portasounds.
Their influences include Kraftwerk, Neu, Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Trans Am, Giorgio Moroder, Ramones, Stereolab, Goblin, Italian horror movie soundtracks, Philip Glass, Terry Reilly, J.S. Bach and Haendel, as well as all kinds of 70’s and 80’s synth-drenched film music.
Apparat Organ Quartet released their first album in 2002. Although it enjoyed only a limited release, the album received enthusiastic praise from critics and has since built up a sizable cult following.
It took the band 8 whole years to record the follow-up, Pólýfónía, but the wait seems to have paid off, as the release was greeted with rave reviews in the Icelandic press. The album featured on many end-of-year lists and was voted “album of the year” by the country’s biggest newspaper, Fréttabladid.
The album’s elaborate packaging was widely acclaimed and designer Siggi Eggertson received the Icelandic Music Award for best design.
In 2011, the band signed a deal with Crunchy Frog to release the album worldwide.
Apparat Organ Quartet was formed by Johann Johannsson to take part in a series of improvised concerts organized by Kitchen Motors in September of 1999. The idea was to put together an electric organ ensemble, partly inspired by Steve Reich and Philip Glass´s early pieces for electric organ (e.g. "Four Organs"). The band was initially motivated by a desire to play these early minimalist works in concert, but these ideas never came to fruition and instead they started to compose their own music which slowly evolved from experimental improvisations inspired by Tangerine Dream, Neu and early Kraftwerk, to their current more accessible, taut, beat and vocoder-oriented sound.