Over the last few years, Norwegian synth-rock masters Apoptygma Bezerk have released a series of three more experimental EPs spearheaded by Stephan Groth : Stop Feeding The Beast, Videodrome and Xenogenesis. These works have certainly been different from, yet still complimentary to the core Apop sound. On Exit Popularity Contest, which was released on 7th October, those three EPs are distilled and reworked in to a thrilling and unified piece. It’s not what you’d expect from Apoptygma Berzerk, but cast those judgements aside and give it a listen.
With influences that vary from the 60’s soundscapes of Delia Derbyshire, to the current sounds of Jean-Michel Jarre via a journey through the 70’s romantic and hypnotic bleakness of Neu! and Kraftwerk, Groth has infused and combined all these into his deeply Scandinavian, accessible pop sensibility.
It’s music that is robotic, escapist and sexy, as if the repetitive beats of German synth music and early techno have been grafted onto the beguiling and abstract sounds of the North, bringing a very modern and classy 21st century sound to a melange of classic electronic musical tropes and sounds.
Exit Popularity Contest is certainly an album that is easy to listen to and get lost in, will probably need more listens to appreciate that it functions as art as much as it does a collection of musical pieces. I can see a lot of die hard Apop fans being just as afronted as they were when the band added a more indie-rock vibe to their sonic repertoire, but get with the programme and give this album a chance – it’s worth taking the time with.