The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


II Matthew Foster , August 5th, 2013 05:10

It's modd-uh-rat, not mode-rat, pronunciation fans. And it's the second melding of the mighty, festival-shredding electronics of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary's Modeselektor with the woozy, little-boy-lost theatrics of Sascha Ring. The trio's first full-length landed in 2009, before Ring had made the artistic leap of faith that was The Devil's Walk, and before Modeselektor had gone off and had babies (via a visit to Monkeytown). II arrives four years later - an age in electronic music - and the emphasis is on refinement and unity rather than reinvention.

Leading the charge for Moderat round two is 'Bad Kingdom', with verses that clatter along on a monster of a bassline before colliding with a Big Chorus of warm pads. Elsewhere, 'Let In The Light' is a beauty, emerging from a thick soup of ambience to provide the record's beating heart. At the deeper end, you've got 'Milk'. You'll hear a lot about 'Milk' from people like me with bits of scrambled egg in our beards, but we only want what's best for you: ten of your earth minutes in exchange for a throbbing, textured slow-builder that's part-way between the heavy hypnosis of say, last year's VCMG album, and the fussy detailing of Caribou and his ilk. It's the track on here that sounds the least like either of Moderat's constituent parts, and is a genuine delight to get lost in, particularly as it gathers a thick web of ambience in its final half.

Its not all harmony: while Ring puts in his best vocal performance to date on 'Bad Kingdom', he's arguably under-deployed as a singer elsewhere. When the Apparat man does take centre stage, he's often pitch-shifted beyond recognition, as on the Knifey 'Ilona', or swamped by overdubs, as on the only real dud 'Gita'. Perhaps it's part of a deliberate ploy to make the record seem less Modeselektor feat Apparat, and to keep you guessing at each track's genesis. Still, it's a shame to see one of the better voices in electronica kept largely under wraps.

That said, II mostly succeeds on its own terms, rather than as a refined package of each act's moodier moments, precisely because it does keep you guessing. Just when you think, for example, that the propulsive 'Therapy' could slip onto 'Happy Birthday' without causing a fuss, it sinks into a thick swamp of yawning vocals and returns transformed. Or  'Damage Done' threatens to leave you on a serious Apparat downer only for 'This Time' to ride the rescue with a burst of euphoric rave synth at the four minute mark. It's a synthesis that works. So Moderat remains an enticing proposition: a grounding of some of Modeselektor's more goofball tendencies in songs with real emotional clout, and a beefing up of Apparat's sometimes fey ways with percussion that would slay its own mother for a Twix. You can't really complain.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.