Walls is the first full length from Sascha Ring (aka Apparat) since 2003's Duplex, but it doesn't mean that he's been slacking in the past four years. His Silizium EP of a couple years back hinted at some new, exciting directions from the young artist and his Orchestra Of Bubbles collaboration with Ellen Allen in 2006 was a gem of a release, mingling techno, electro and pop music together in delightful ways.
Walls dips into a pretty wide variety of genres, with pieces that touch on everything from a minimal classical influence to more straight-up electronic pop goodness. The aforementioned are both touched on during the first two songs on the release, as "Not A Number" starts things off with overlapping Steve Reich-esque chimes, texture washes, and some layered strings. "Hailin' From The Edge" is one of four songs on the release to feature Raz Ohara, who's soulful voice is a nice offset to the more fragile and plain words of Ring. Musically, the track is one of the more thumping on the release, with a growling bass, sharp beats, string flourishes and all kinds of electronic background trickery.
From there out, the album veers back and forth from largely instrumental (although sometimes Ring contributes some wordless vocals), painterly electronic pieces that shimmer with texture and often crack with subtle beats. The two-part "Fractales" bursts out of the gate with a smooth dance pop feel before the second section pushes forward with a more chamber-influenced opening section before morphing into a wave of humming drone. "You Don't Know Me" is one of the best tracks of this variety on the release, as a crunchy rhythm marches forward while strings, layers of electronics, and guitar feedback all peak in a glorious crescendo.
That said, it seems like most of the better songs on the release feature Ohara on vocals. "Headup" is one of these, skipping forward with crisp beats and a widescreen panorama of sheer textural sounds that build towards a blurry finale. With thirteen (fourteen if you count a hidden one after the closer) tracks running a clean hour in length, there are definitely a couple places on Walls that could have used a bit of trimming to make it a bit tighter (including the meandering "Birds" which arrives about halfway through and the aforementioned needless closing track). That's nitpicking, though, and it's still a pretty darn good release, with enough stunning moments to make up for a couple saggy spots.