APOPTYGMA BERZERK: APBL 2000 (2001)
1) Intro; 2) Starsign; 3) Stitch; 4) Paranoia; 5) Eclipse; 6) Deep Red; 7) Soultaker; 8) Kathy's Song; 9) Non Stop Violence; 10) Fade To Black; 11) Mourn; 12) Beatbox; 13) Bitch.
This is actually Apoptygma Berzerk's (or «Apop»'s, as the band is lovingly abbreviated by fans) second live album: two years before this one, Groth released APBL98, usually castigated for horrendous sound quality. Well, for this second one, sound quality is certainly not a problem.
The problem is whether there actually is a need for an APBL experience in the first place. It is true that, when going on tour, Groth takes along some real musicians: here, we have two extra keyboard players, one extra real guitarist, and one extra live drummer. It is even possible to hear the live drumming. But does it even matter, if there is no real drive to transform Groth's studio creations into true «live music» on the stage?
If there is any drive at all, it is solely to wipe out any last traces of «art» there might have been left and transform all of it into a non-stop club rave where pauses between tracks are intended to give you a chance to catch your breath and nothing else. For his setlist, Groth selects only the fast techno numbers, and those few old hits that didn't used to be fast techno numbers are transformed therein ('Mourn', which I used to somewhat like before he sped it up and sucked all the gloom out of it, leaving only the danceability).
The only thing we may concede is that the guy does have stage presence: not only is he completely up to the task of singing his parts well over all the noise, he also manages to cast a certain aura of creepiness during the announcements as well — the only case in history I know where the «Goth vibe» may be felt more acutely in between the performances than during them. Also, the live guitar playing on some of the tracks may make it easier for the non-electronica-weaned listener to get into them. But why should such a listener pay any attention to «Apop» in the first place? Nope. Go see the show if you like getting your kicks this way — skip the record. Thumbs down — not that I expected much, but it is still disappointing to see inventiveness completely sacrificed in favor of the generic party spirit.