Music

Moderat: Moderat

Photo: Melissa Hostetler

Don't call it a supergroup, but Modeselektor + Apparat = pretty super stuff.


Moderat

Moderat

Label: BPitch Control
US Release Date: 2009-04-28
UK Release Date: 2009-05-04
Amazon
iTunes

Though the outfits Apparat (Sascha Ring) and Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) are both practically household names in German techno by now, the two groups actually collaborated on a lone EP as Moderat before the bulk of their recorded careers got underway. With the full intention of transforming their cooperative into a career path, the four painstakingly intricate glitch-hop tracks were dubbed Auf Kosten Der Gesundheit, or “At the Expense of One’s Health”, in honor of the exhaustion endured during their creation. Perhaps traumatized by the event, the three split and were not heard from again until now, seven years down the road.

They didn’t necessarily avoid each other in the years to come; they’ve swapped remixes here and there, and Apparat helped Modeselektor and Paul St. Hilaire produce “Let Your Love Grow”, the best song from 2007’s Happy Birthday!. But a chance meeting at a public pool found them challenging each other back into the studio together. Their long-awaited return sounds less labored than their previous outing, but it is still the work of some of the most studious boys in the studio. It bears little resemblance to the abstract techno of their debut EP, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still the thoughtful fusion of the vast bilateral output by the Moderat members, following that rare early release on Bpitch Control (minus perhaps Modeselektor’s predilection for shtick). It may have been recorded with a bunch of 1970s analogue synths, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound like a computer record from 2009.

Modeselektor’s kitchen-sink diversity is very much present, as is Apparat’s stately sophisticated electropop. But in a rare twist of fate, the styles actually seem to flow together, perhaps even better than on Modeselektor’s compilation-style albums. This is likely due to the smooth transitions that glide many of the tracks into one another. “Slow Match” is a reserved patch of atmospheric underwater dancehall (not unlike the kind found on the Pinch album of the same name) with chop-suey vocals by the Basic Channel standby Paul St. Hilaire that were recorded years before Bronsert and Szary rekindled things with Ring. The funereal strings of “Slow Match” bleed into the Kranky-ish harmonized drones of “3 Minutes Of”, which promises to be three minutes of said ambience, but actually splits at the two-minute mark to form the prologue for “Nasty Silence”, a persistent little tune that keeps the echolocation of the former track and slaps it atop a Martyn-esque shuffle beat.

The dubstep influence is definitely felt here, but none of the tunes ever really sound like dubstep proper. There’s no wonky insectoid riffs or brown-note piercing bass drops, just the intimation of subterranean riddim. Ring’s two vocal performances in particular take on the air of David Gahan with Burial as his beat architect. The opening rhythm of “Rusty Nails” has the same feel of transit and memory that Untrue wore so effortlessly, but the vocals wail out in gloom. Electro-house embers and ghostly shadows combine to manifest a presence whose trajectory is pointed vertically upwards, though its lyrics are underground. “Down’s the only way out”, Ring says, “because hell’s above”.

The other Ring-fronted outing , “Out of Sight”, is slightly softer and evokes less of a chill-down-the-spine desolation than a kind of placidly defeated state of grace, alternating between warm buzzes and pulsating strands of rogue looping. This being the final track, the terminal spot, Ring is not even looking for a way out anymore. “We will all be forsaken”, he says with quite certain doom at one point. And later, “There’s no peace for a vicious happy ending / Out of sight”, signifying that the title of the cut is less about a state of grooviness than a state beyond hope, implicitly prefiguring dubstep’s apocalyptic roots in fire-and-brimstone dread-lock music. Pessimistic? Sure. But its elegant instrumentation makes it beautifully so.

On the polar opposite side of the album is “A New Error”, which has a bit of a melancholy mood about it as well, though its momentum is more of a march than a swagger. The machine beat is very simple and drum-machine-derived, centering attention away from the rhythm tracks for the first and last time on the album. The synths contain the slightly detuned erroring of the song’s namesake. The anthemic buzz bass recalls The Human League’s “The Dignity of Labour”: noble, proudly dated, and poised for world domination.

Unmentioned thus far is just how unbelievably listenable all this lithium-dosed eclecticism is. “Porc #1” and “Porc #2”, with its New Order chord progressions, might even attract the indie dance squad to the table. Moderat is a wonderful second take on a pairing that only now, after years of self-development through the Modeselektor and Apparat brands, seems a coupling destined for greatness.

7

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image