Apparat Organ Quartet biography
Hailing from Reykjavík, Iceland '''Apparat Organ Quartet''' is a band founded in 1999 by Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hörður Bragason, Músikvatur and Úlfur Eldjárn. Despite their name however, they are a five piece band consisting of four keyboard players and a drummer.
Formed on the initiative of Jóhann Jóhannsson in September of 1999, the band was initially motivated by a desire to play early minimalist works in concert, but instead they started to compose their own music which slowly evolved from experimental improvisations to their current sound.
The "quartet" sometimes describe their music as "Machine Rock and Roll", and indeed the band's sound veers between pulsing floor-fillers and headbanging anthems, served with a mixture of Kraftwerk-inspired electronics, Daft Punk-like robot voices and hard rock beats. Every note in Apparat Organ Quartet is hand-played, with not a sequencer or computer in sight. In concert and on record, the band plays keyboards from their extensive collection of jurassic analog machinery, including Russian synths and customized home organs, ARPs, Farfisas, malfunctioning Hammonds, vocoders and various circuit-bent Casios and Portasounds.
Apparat Organ Quartet's released their self-titled debut album in 2002 after 3 years in the making. The Quartet's members say it took so long because they had to discover by themselves how to record an organ quartet. "We couldn't just go to the record-store and ask for an organ quartet album. We had to invent the genre." The album seems to have many layers. The oldest takes date back to 1999 while some of the songs underwent major changes during the last few days of mixing.
In March 2010, Apparat Organ Quartet announced that they had begun recording their second album entitled Pólýfónía. The album was released on December 9, 2010 a full eight years after their debut release. Pólýfónía was greeted with rave reviews in the Icelandic press and the album's elaborate packaging was widely acclaimed and designer Siggi Eggertson received the Icelandic Music Award for best design. n 2011, the band signed a deal with Crunchy Frog to release the album worldwide.
Their passion for out-moded musical machines and ancient communication technologies is also clearly reflected in their collaboration with TF3IRA, a trio of ham radio enthusiasts. This performance, documented on the Kitchen Motors CD "Motorlab 2", featured an enormous electric sound sculpture involving shortwave receivers and morse code transmissions mixed in with the organ quartet's ethereal soundscapes.
The album cover art features oil paintings of the band as Playmo characters by the artist Markús Þór Andrésson.
Apparat Organ Quartet has been invited to numerous festivals and prestigious venues in Europe before even releasing an album, including the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, London's Institute of Contemporary Arts|ICA, Batofar in Paris, as well as performing in St. Petersburg and Helsinki. The band have played New York's Central Park Summer Stage, Denmark's Spot Festival, Stockholm's Kulturhuset as well as Holland's Lowlands and the Belgian Pukkelpop festival.
Apparat Organ Quartet's members and their extra curricular activities include:
Músikvatur, who has collaborated with múm and has released several solo singles.
Hörður Bragason, a former associate of Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch and a former organist in Reykjavik's largest church congregation.
Úlfur Eldjárn, also a member of the group Trabant and former member of Kanada.
Arnar Geir Ómarsson, who has worked with Magga Stina, Ham, Lhooq and others.
The band was originally conceived as part of a series of improvised concerts organized by Kitchen Motors, a record label and art collective founded by Jóhann Jóhannsson, Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir, and Hilmar Jensson.
Apparat Organ Quartet is also part of a collective of Reykjavik-based musicians that includes members of Sigur Rós, múm, Kanada, Trabant, Funerals, Slowblow and others. A number of these acts share members, and have collaborated on other projects.
They were one of many Icelandic bands documented in Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon's 2005 film ''Screaming Masterpiece'' (''Gargandi Snilld'' in Icelandic).