Grandiose, dynamic and cohesive score from German composer and producer
Sascha Ring’s career has led him in wildly disparate directions. Ring, who has adopted the moniker Apparat, is one third of German electro pop group Moderat, but he’s also achieved notoriety for his ambient music. In 2020, Ring released a string of projects pulling from his multitude of work on film and television soundtracks. Soundtracks: Capri-Revolution is the first of those releases: a sprawling, grandiose sonic journey that seldom falls flat.
Soundtracks: Capri-Revolution is a reworked version of Ring and composer Philipp Thimm’s collaboration with Italian director Mario Martone on the soundtrack for his film Capri-Revolution, a period drama set in 1914 before Italy’s entry into World War I. The score combines vibrant strings, programmed sounds and droning, detuned synthesizers, giving it shades of antiquity, modernity and nostalgia.
The first batch of tracks feel like a cosmic sunrise in three parts. Opener “Silia,” with its wavering, droning synthesizers and light beeping accents, feels like the moment the sun breaks the horizon on an alien planet. If “Silia” represents the day’s first light, “Plidoh” feels like the early morning. A humming, droning synthesizer is accompanied by bright keyboard accents, choral overtones and bird chirps, lending a meditative mood to the track. The track “Neruvola” features an airy, wailing synth reminiscent of a whalesong. Ring keeps the instrumentation to a minimum here, and that bareness maintains the peaceful mood of the previous tracks.
“Licidana” signals a shift in the record’s atmosphere, like an interruption of the cosmic sunrise. Organ-like synthesizers and bright tones play a looped riff that sounds dystopian, while crunchy synths play steady staccato notes, like a racing pulse. “Silia Reprise” reuses the instrumentation from its predecessor, but it’s clear that things have changed. The mix is freer and airier, creating the feeling of drifting. Ring also throws in an encompassing bass synthesizer that pierces through the mix, adding tension and depth.
The track “La Gravidanza” introduces strings to the score. Accompanied by scattered beeps and spliced synthesizers, the strings sound powerful, ebbing and flowing beautifully throughout the piece. It almost feels as though Ring plucked a passage from the Game of Thrones soundtrack and put his trademark futuristic spin on it. “Harper Caprira” keeps the strings in the mix, this time using droning violin tones and rapid guitar plucks. The strings swell and fade excitedly while a piano adds accompaniments, and it feels like the beginning of an epic journey. By the track’s conclusion, the rumbling sound of an aircraft in flight all but overtakes the mix.
On “Electricity,” Ring’s focus seems to be on introducing a new sound. A dull synth drones in the background like an engine humming while Ring scatters jolts of crackling synth sounds across the track. The new sound continues into the track “EC Blip,” which feels like the aircraft malfunctioning. Those crackling synths are joined by layered, somber sounding strings, as well as a kick drum made to sound like a heartbeat.
“Paestrom Neruvola” also begins with the synths from “Electricity,” but they’re even more distorted now. An acoustic guitar enters playing a somber melody and a muted synthesizer later washes eerily over the mix. Ring then cleverly reprises the whalesong synthesizers of “Neruvola,” and in this context they feel more somber and lonely.
The following track, “Reconciliation,” is the record’s crux, a chillingly gorgeous passage that sounds like a grandiose music box. A powerful piano and lighter keyboard make up most of the instrumental, but the beauty of the track is in its subtleties. Little keyboard hits, creaking white noise and airy, detuned synthesizers help create a wistful, almost longing feeling that’s just plain pretty. “Goldkind” combines the keyboard of “Reconciliation” with the deep, powerful strings of some of the previous tracks. Ring builds the track up flawlessly, but the mix is abruptly disrupted by the sounds of breaking wood and pained screaming, both of which feel out of place.
Album closer “Aracneae” is eight minutes long but each second is infused with Ring’s ingenuity. He pulls from the sounds and moods of several other tracks, combining them together into a grand reprise of the entire score, while kick drums made to sound like a galloping horse drive the mix forward. Ring also includes lyrics here. Poetic, whimsical lines are sung by an uncredited vocalist, whose deep register is reminiscent of Eddie Vedder or Matt Berninger.
On Soundtracks: Capri-Revolution, Apparat masterfully conjures a grandiose sonic collage that feels simultaneously foreign and familiar. Though the instrumentation is occasionally rather bare, the vast majority of the score feels dynamic and emotive. Ring does a phenomenal job of maintaining musical cohesion across the soundtrack’s 13 passages, reprising each of the sounds and varying them to evoke different moods and emotions. The result is a gripping, immersive journey through an otherworldly soundscape.