Apparat Organ Quartet, AOQ, began in 1999 and has, or does now, consist of Hörður Bragason, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Músikvatur, Úlfur Eldjárn and Þorvaldur Gröndal who was later replaced by HAM drummer Arnar Geir Ómarsson. As of 2012, Jóhann Jóhannsson left AOQ to focus on his other projects.
Trying to regurgitate their entire history from Wiki, or their website would be a disservice, as their website is extremely entertaining so I’ll leave that to you; and just go on about their albums and live gigs. AOQ is always an interesting band to see live. They pride themselves on not sequencing the music, and their instruments are a hodge-podge of keyboards, organs, vocoders, and synthesizers, all tweaked and modified to bring the audience and listener unique beat-heavy dance and rock pieces.
My first live experience with AOQ was unplanned. I was at NASA early to ensure my sweet spot for a band I can’t even remember that was playing after them. The lights dimmed and the stage came alive with this massive bulk of machinery and wires cranking out these incredibly forceful soundwaves of synthesized vocals, organs tweaked improper, keyboards, and I swear to God there was a cow bell. The crowd, obviously familiar with them went nuts, jumping up and down, freaking out, and displaying the bands symbol, the triangle. Lift both hands above your head, put your thumbs together in a straight line, then touch your index fingers together, making the triangle. Obviously the show left it’s impression, as I remember AOQ, but not the band I was really there to see.
Their first album came out around 2002. The self titled album is built like an album should be, very easy to listen to and fluid. It starts off with a lot of energy, then you coast gleefully through the middle engaging the listener with ups and downs, coming to a very spacey, relaxing end. The album took almost 3 years of discovery and research for the band, and according to the band’s website, it took so long to create as it was undiscovered territory. Not many organ quartets are out there, add that to their naturally creative nature, and obsession with customizing old and new things alike, and you have a lot of untraveled space to fly through. My favorite tracks on the album are The Anguish of Space Time and Stereo rock and roll.
Their second full length, Pólýfónía, has the same upbeat vibe, and more pop-ish tracks such as 123 Forever as well as more rock-ish tracks like Cargo Frakt. At Airwaves 2012, instead of a bulk of instruments taking up the center of the stage, Apparat added 4 very new, very shiny instruments. A quartet of women:
They first appeared on the track Konami and then appeared live, for everyone to see. The concert this time was at Harpa, a much larger venue, which the band filled with an epic light show, as well as these lovely ladies. AOQ proved again that they know how to put on an amazing show.
The last thing I want to mention is their Pólýfónía Remixes album, with artists such as FM Belfast and Bloodgroup. Definitely worth a listen, Fm Belfast’s remix of Konami, is my favorite track on the album.
1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at? I think we did our first Airwaves off venue gig this year at KEX and it was quite nice. They had delicious soup.
2. If you combine all of your favorite colors (for you, add your bandmates if you would), what do you get? A whiter shade of pale
3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin? DJ Musician, DJ Sexbomb and DJ Flugvél og geimskip
4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? A steam engine robot playing Jump by Van Halen