Ellen Allien & Apparat: Orchestra of Bubbles
Bpitch Control

The whole isn't always greater than the sum of the parts where artist collaborations are concerned but Orchestra of Bubbles, a splendid eleven-song production by Bpitch Controller Ellen Allien and Shitkatapult co-head Sascha Ring (aka Apparat), builds on its contributors' considerable strengths instead of diluting them. Superb cuts like the gracefully streaking “Jet” and the Kraftwerk-meets-Kronos “Retina” generate tension by offsetting surging propulsion with melodic melancholia, while “Way Out” is boosted by Allien's soaring vocal and a yearning quality so compelling it verges on poignant. Though the material's not 'orchestral' in the traditional sense, the duo's technicolour sound distinguishes the album with a noir-like, Euro-techno ambiance. Pummeling bass lines, pulsating synths, and scalpel-sharp beats drive throbbing night crawlers like “Turbo Dreams” and “Under.” Less predictably, “Metric” flirts with dancehall and “Leave Me Alone” includes a languid vocal from Ring that may be less seductive than his cohort's but is far from unpleasant. Like a sleek Mercedes cruising the late-night Berlin metropolis, Orchestra of Bubbles is first-rate knob-twiddling electro-techno.

April 2006