SIX MODULAR PIECES
ALBUM MUTE, PLAYGROUND RELEASE: JUNE 12, 2000 REVIEW: JUNE 13, 2000
Appliance are art rockers. Fans of King Crimson and Pink Floyd might correctly disagree, there aren't many drug infused oriental flute melodies here. Instead, Appliance is about minimal, and in the musical arena, very German art.
Last year Appliance released an EP of mixes of their songs performed by the German kraut elite. The spirit and music of those bands, To Rococo Rot, Kriedler, Pole and Tarwater, are very similar to that of Appliance. The musicians consider themselves artists and work with instrumental, impersonal musical components to create complex "pieces" rather than songs. Layers of conventional rock instruments and samples meld and converge in slow patterns very different from the verse/choruses of pop.
Truth to be told, many of them fall into the boring tedious crap trap. A precious few retain an originality that keeps the music alive and fascinating. Appliance lands somewhere in between.
In their best moments they manage to create a kind of intensity and tension in very calm soundscapes, conjuring up a menacing stillness. If they could only take it a bit further, into something either spine-chilling or heart-warming, it could be truly great. But Appliance doesn't quite have the melodies of Tortoise, the playfulness of Mouse on Mars or the harshness of, say, Suicide. At least the music is far jollier than the name of the group (I was kind of expecting a symphony of food processors).