Having made a considerable splash with the Ellen Allien collaboration Orchestra of Bubbles, Apparat returned to his own path with Walls, a remarkable album that ranks as his best yet. Beginning with the gentle string and vibes beats of "Not a Number" -- which in its own melancholy way, combined with the title, suddenly sounds like one of the most humanistic songs yet recorded, passionate in its elegant sorrow -- Walls takes a simultaneously familiar and unsettled path. While the continuing impact of disparate strands of music -- the fallout of My Bloody Valentine and its many imitators, the electronic obsessions of Warp, the stadium-ready melancholy of early Radiohead and its own horde of followers -- has resulted in a 21st century computer music of crushed sorrow; on Walls, Apparat transcends the downbeat limitations of the incipient form with astonishing grace. Hearing how what could be a standard filter-house volume build in "Limelight" becomes a fierce trap for a voice barely understandable, or how the post-Jeff Buckley/Thom Yorke woundedly sweet vocal on "Arcadia" actually means something working alongside the busily frenetic beats make the listener regard familiar approaches in a sudden new light. Meantime, "You Don't Know Me," which appears towards the album's conclusion, might actually be the best song on it. While there are a lot of songs that could be described as soundtracking a nonexistent film, this actually feels like it, strings and a handclap beat creating a pitch-perfect atmosphere to the end of a romantic movie. Raz Ohara's various vocal appearances throughout are nice additions but the highlight is "Hold On," where his perfectly in-the-moment R&B style contrasts the squelching bass and nervous but righteous groove to a T.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett