Apparat Organ Quartet is a 5 piece band: 4 organists and 1 drummer. They sometimes describe their music as “Machine Rock and Roll" but the standard definition of their sound is “Organ Quartet Music", a completely new genre. They have been compared to such different acts as Kraftwerk, Wagner, Goblin, Terry Reilly, Steve Reich, Sigur Rós, the Glitter Band, Stereolab and Trans Am.
Their sound has been described as quite unique and their concerts frequently inspire high praise: "Apparat Organ Quartet has grown into a phenomenal force, playing soul-stirringly portentous mechanical music, equal parts progressive rock and horror film soundtrack, reminiscent of older acts like Kraftwerk and Goblin... as innovative and meticulous as Sigur Rós but who sound nothing like it." Neil Strauss The New York Times
Apparat Organ Quartet released their second single on June 9th 2003 in the UK. "Romantika", on the Duophonic label, is a song taken from their eponymous debut album. They have also released tracks on compilation albums from Kitchen Motors, a pioneering label/art-organisation in Iceland, and a limited edition 7 inch of the single “Stereo Rock and Roll"’ on the 13amp label in the UK.
Apparat Organ Quartet was originally formed to take part in a series of improvised concerts organized by Kitchen Motors in September of 1999. (Apparat member Jóhann Jóhannsson is a founding member of Kitchen Motors). The idea was to put together an electric organ ensemble, in part inspired by Steve Reich´s pieces for electric organ (e.g. "Four Organs"). The band was in fact initially motivated by a desire to play these early minimalist works in concert. These ideas never came to fruition and instead they started to compose their own pieces, slowly evolving their unique sound through trial and error.
Apparat Organ Quartet´s debut album, simply entitled "Apparat Organ Quartet" was almost 3 years in the making, a long but happy process. 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. The many strange and beautiful sounds heard on the album come from AOQ’s vast collection of antique synthesizers, Farfisas, Hammonds, home-organs, cheap portable keyboards and all sorts of malfunctioning machinery.
AOQ use old discarded technology, home organs and cheap consumer cast-offs often salvaged from garbage dumps and then customized by the band for the rigors of live use.
Their passion for out-moded musical machines and ancient communication technologies is 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 ICA, Batofar in Paris, as well as performing in St. Petersburg and Helsinki to name a few places. Recently, 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.
Musikvatur, who has collaborated with Múm and has released several solo singles. Hordur Bragason, a former associate of Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch and by day, an organist in Reykjavik´s largest church congregation.
Jóhann Jóhannsson, who has worked with among others Marc Almond, The Hafler Trio, Barry Adamson, Pan Sonic and Mum. He has also released two critically acclaimed solo albums, 'Englabörn' and 'Virthulegu forsetar' on Touch. Ulfur Eldjarn, also a member of the group Trabant and former member of Kanada. Arnar Geir Omarsson, who has worked with Magga Stina, Ham, Lhooq and others.
Apparat Organ Quartet is a part of a closely knit collection of musicians working in Reykjavik. This extremely active and vibrant scene includes members of Sigur Rós, Múm, Kanada, Trabant, Funerals, Slowblow and others. Some of these bands share members and frequently collaborate on other music and art projects.
— 12 Tónar