Apparat Organ Quartet - A Polyphonic SophomoreIceland’s Apparat Organ Quartet have been compared to a dizzying range of acts, from Kraftwerk, Wagner and Goblin to Terry Reilly, Steve Reich and the Glitter Band. Apparat Organ Quartet use old discarded technology, home organs and cheap consumer cast-offs often salvaged from garbage dumps and then customized by the band for the rigors of live use. The band’s eponymous debut album, almost three years in the making, featured many strange and beautiful sounds thanks to their vast collection of antique synthesizers, Farfisas, Hammonds, home-organs, cheap portable keyboards and all sorts of malfunctioning machinery.
After eight long years, the five-piece are now finally ready to release a follow up. IMX chat to Úlfur Eldjárn about it…
Much speculation and mystery has arisen around the idea of a second AOQ album. Can you now confirm that the rumours are true?
Exquisite. So why has it taken you so long to finally make a follow up? You can’t have been repairing instruments for this long…
No. We have been playing music at funerals, editing television news pieces about atrocities in Iraq, designing advertising for evil corporations, researching castrati and composing depressing music for goth children.
Fair enough. Does the new record bear any similarities to the old one or is it built from a completely new palette of styles and sounds?
It's more accessible and more suited to the musical tastes of the masses. The working title was at one point "Fanfare for the Common Man."
Are the AOQ the same people today as they were before?
Same people, new suits: Arnar Geir Ómarsson, drums. Hörður Bragason, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sighvatur Ómar Kristinsson, and Úlfur Eldjárn, organs.
And who else is maybe involved in the album besides you guys?
We produced the album ourselves, but we had a lot of help mainly from Axel "Flex" Arnarsson who took on the monstrous task of mixing, sometimes working with 100 + channels of annoying analogue sounds, and Styrmir Hauksson who did the mastering. Ben Frost and Finnur Hákonarsson were also involved at some point in the recording process which has been going on since 2007.
What about instruments - what delicious antiquities appear on the new record and how do they sound?
We repaired and restored a lot of instruments from our collection of castaway electronics. Part of the reason why it took so long is that we did an inventory of all our stuff. We have now organized our collection and classified all our electronic components so the next record should take less time to make, maybe only five years.
How did the idea for Apparat Organ Quartet come about anyhow? Was it a bit of fun turned more serious?
Apparat Organ Quartet started when Jóhann Jóhannsson was asked to put together a project for a Kitchen Motors event. The original idea was to play versions of early minimalist music by people like Steve Reich, but that idea was quickly abandoned, as we soon discovered we enjoyed improvising and playing new music. The first concert was in Tjarnarbíó and the music was initially mostly improvised. We enjoyed playing together so we decided to continue the project and to try writing some music together. We soon added a drummer and this changed the sound of the band quite a lot and it became more energetic. The first pieces were long, minimalistic and droney but we soon started to structure things more and make them more song-like. The AOQ sound was developed over 3 years from when we started in 1999 until we finished recording our first album which was released in 2002.
You've performed some interesting shows. What's the most memorable?
The 1000est anniversary of Christanity in Iceland 2000 always comes to mind for some reason. Also in the same year we opened for synth pioneer Don Buchla in Kópavogur. He did some cabaret jazz with midi sensors and strange contraptions. Our show in Moloko in St. Petersbourg was really memorable and when we played at Batofar in Paris, a club situated on a boat on the Seine. Also we felt special when we played in Tokyo, it felt like coming home. Being in the birthplace of Yamaha, Casio, Kawasaki and more. We dream of coming back there and opening for the YMO.
What do you all do when you're not playing around with your organs?
Play music at funerals, edit television news pieces about atrocities in Iraq, design advertising for evil corporations, research castrati and compose depressing music for goth children.
Now the album is out, what are your plans as a group? World tour, yes?
Yes, we'd love a world tour with Yes!
How do you define the AOQ sound to someone who has never seen you live, or has but is very hard of hearing?
“Machine Rock and Roll” or "Organ Quartet Music".
And finally, what are you hoping to get in the AOQ christmas sock for Xmas?
Fresh socks and bananas + some pedals.
Apparat Organ Quartet's sophomore album "Pólýfónía" is out on 9. December 2010.
Following the release there will be a release concert @ NASA, also on 9. December.
Apparat Organ Quartet @ Myspace
Source: Iceland Music Export