Moderat – II

Their finest work yet.

Label: Monkeytown Music

Rating: 8

Shattering the Berlin Wall did more than just unite East and West Germany. The police focused their gazes on trying to repair the resulting lawlessness, ignoring German youths in a new creative landscape. Berlin duo Modeselektor were amongst those developing their music at the many illegal acid house raves in the country. The act’s Sebastian Szary said: “The police were doing other things, they were dealing with the reunification, so if you set up speakers and a smoke machine in an abandoned building somewhere, they didn’t stop you.”

Moderat – the partnership of Modeselektor and Apparat’s Sascha Ring – embodies that chaotic unification. Both acts are celebrated on different grounds; Apparat for his hypnotic ambience and Modeselektor for their frenetic bass. A meeting at a label showcase sparked this collaboration but a troublesome period followed. It did little to silence those doubting Apparat could successfully combine his catchy ambience with Modeselektor’s frenetic tribalism. Arguments plagued the recording of their debut EP in 2002 and the three were hospitalised afterwards as exhaustion threatened their health. Many questioned whether they’d still be around following the breakdowns that made them disappear. But they surprised everyone by reemerging with a debut full-length seven years later. The doubters had their lips sealed as ‘Moderat’ gained acclaim for seamlessly fusing both acts’ trademark sounds into one.

Five years later, they return with ‘II’. Six months recording underground nurtured that same fusion on the debut but fresh ideas and resolved disputes has created a grander, more immediate record. ‘Ilona’ immediately recalls Modeselektor’s tribal tributes to Burial, whilst ‘Therapy’ – a kaleidoscope of soaring synths and saccharine vocals – nods toward Apparat. But as a whole, any of ‘II’’s tracks could work on either a Modeselektor or Apparat record. The ten-minute long ‘Milk’ washes frosty synth-sounds with bass lines you can pop your hips to. Fractured vocals complement tracks rather than overpower them: ‘Damage Done’’s stuttering blips and piercing whale noises are placed equally alongside Ring’s warm coo as he sings: “I see the damage I’ve done.” Elsewhere, ‘Let In The Light’’s plinky-plonky keys and saccharine melody makes it the album’s gorgeous standout.

It’s a relief that Moderat survived the turmoil that threatened their health and existence from the very beginning. ‘II’ is their finest work yet and cements the fact that Moderat have developed into a dance act whose existence should never have even been questioned in the first place.