Moderat is made of Apparat’s Sascha Ring and Modeselektor’s Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary; as the album title suggests, II is their sophomore release. This is no slump, however, and the music these men make together is seamless and true: It does not sound like two distinct visions forced together, but instead reflects a natural progression of shared ideas, a tangle of conflicts, tensions, and parallels brought together to create something exhilarating.
The lead single, “Bad Kingdom,” is built around a wonky hi-hat/snare pattern; flatulent, vibrating bass; airy synths; and surprisingly lovely, expressive vocals. It’s an interesting combination of sounds for what is fundamentally a pop song, and it’s hard not to think of Radiohead. It makes sense that both Apparat and Modeselektor have toured with the band, but, while the comparison fits, it doesn’t tell the whole story. More often, I’m reminded of the artists signed to Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons label: I hear the dark dance rhythms of Addison Groove, the passion of FaltyDL, the subterranean punch of Shed. Sometimes, such as in the 10-minute “Milk” or its successor “Therapy,” I also hear the minimal beats of Detroit’s Juan Atkins and Terrence Dixon, the deranged techno of the UK’s Raime and Andy Stott. But while those artists remain decidedly anti-establishment, too angular and industrial to be easily embraced, Moderat spend a bit more time in the daylight. “Let in the Light,” “Gita,” “Damage Done,” and the aforementioned “Bad Kingdom” match innovative electronics with memorable melodies.
The video for "Bad Kingdom," directed by the talented Pfadfinderei design team:
The lyrics go: “Here it ends / No one’s gonna shed a tear / No need to shout / Just to stand the silence / A well spent time / In the early morning haze / You sit and wait / Watching full glasses through blank eyes / This is not what you wanted / Not what you had in mind.”
It’s practically a love song, right?
You can have II on CD, LP, deluxe gatefold 2LP, or as a 320kbps MP3 download. [AudioStream.com's Michael Lavorgna points out that the album is also available as a high-quality FLAC download from Boomkat. Sweet!Ed.] The record sounds wonderful through headphones and it's super fun on the hi-fi, filled with thrilling stereo effects and a wide range of sounds, both trembling and trebly. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, the album art is especially awesome; I’m sure it gets even better as it gets bigger. Moderat’s II is available now from Monkeytown Records.