Modeselektor do seem to be enjoying a moment in the spotlight. 2005’s Hello Mom! apparently made inroads with all the right kinds of critics, because here we are two years later and we’re still talking about the German duo of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, and all the hi-jinks to which they’ve been up to these past few years. Time flies pretty quickly: I didn’t even realize it had been exactly two years since Hello Mom! was first released. It seems like only yesterday….
But here we are, and the duo have made enough of an impact to be asked to compile the third disc in Bpitch Control’s excellent Boogy Bytes series (don’t worry, that’s not a typo). Bpitch Control are themselves something of an upstart label, positioned as the rowdy, ill-behaved country mouse to Kompakt’s discrete, well-mannered cosmopolitan city mouse. Techno has had a renaissance these last few years, as has been abundantly stated by myself and others, and Germany is ground zero. So it’s good to see that while the intellectually stimulating minimal house will always be well represented, there’s room for something a bit rowdier as well.
And let there be no doubt, this is an extremely fun disc. I can definitely admire the assiduousness with which Modeselektor have designed their mix with the goal of having a good time. There’s not a lot in the way of overarching thematic content, but the disc is never dumb. There’s a lot of smart music here—they finish the set with a Radiohead track, for goodness’ sake (“Ideotheque”)—but it’s not presented simply for the sake of being smart. What we have instead is a great party mix put together by folks with discerning tastes, in such a way as manages to neither insult the listener’s intelligence nor float over their heads when they’re just trying to have a good time. I mean, “Ideotheque” is actually a pretty crunk track. I’m serious!
The mix begins on a sleazy note, with Siriusmo’s “Wow” coming on like the Warren G. dubplate you never heard, before getting spacey with the Detroit Experiment’s “Vernors” and Spank Rock’s delectable “Rick Rubin”. Before getting too stupid, however, they are careful to swerve downwards a bit, dropping into something a bit more minimal—the Audiojack remix of Bobby Peru’s “Erotic Discourse” manages to slow the tempo down while somehow spreading a heap of filthy sweat across the turntables. Things get rather dense as the duo mix up a number of different tracks, getting dubbier and more intense with every measure, before passing into the Carl Craig remix of “Poor People Must Work” by Rhythm & Sound feat. Bobbo Shanti. I haven’t heard a bad Carl Craig mix in…well, probably ever, and this is no exception to the rule: dark, dense, compelling, and absolutely gorgeous. Probably the highlight of the set.
But they know when to lighten the mood, too. Before long, we’re back with Sirisumo and the light-hearted “Discosau”, before segueing into TTC’s “Une Bande de Mec Sympha”. The mere presence alone of TTC is enough to put a smile on my face—imagine a French 2 Live Crew by way of Goldie Lookin’ Chain. The Modeselektor boys have collaborated with TTC a number of times, so their presence is not as unusual as you might think (I don’t know, if you don’t like TTC it still might not make sense). They manage to squeeze in a Mr. Oizo track (“Half a Scissor”) as well as a μ-Ziq number (”μ-Ziq Theme”), contributing to a slightly spacey IDM-esque home stretch before alighting on the aforementioned Radiohead track. Cut, print.
It’s a good mix, well put-together and expertly balanced. It’s definitely a promising sign from one of the most lauded acts in modern electronic music—and bodes well for their forthcoming sophomore album. Here’s hoping that in the future they manage to preserve this delicate balance between stupid and smart.