Moderat is Apparat and Modeselektor. Whether that means anything to you shouldn’t matter. However, if it does, you already know you should acquire this album.
For the uninitiated: both Apparat and Modeselektor are of the Berlin electronic scene. Apparat is a one-man show, Sascha Ring, with roots in techno and ambient music. Duo Modeselektor, by contrast, has its roots in IDM, glitch, and house, among other genres (they prefer to be non-genre aligned). Born in 2002, with only two full-length albums to their credit, the combination of these two acts is a thing of beauty.
The lead single off the album, “Bad Kingdom,” is gorgeous, a haunting piece of lyrical and instrumental work. It’s accompanied by an incredible illustrated video, created by longtime Modeselektor partner Pfadfinderei, about a young Englishman in the 1960s London seeming to go from innocent to completely corrupt. The piece is incredibly hooky, with a dirty bass line and glitchy drum line underlying beautiful, often longing vocals and an airy, somehow aspirational synth line.
The rest of the album ably builds upon “Bad Kingdom,” with atmospheric, beat-driven sonic explorations that leave the listener wanting to endlessly hit repeat (something this author has now been doing for roughly a month). In “Versions,” for example, echo-y vocal riffs are layered over a steadily humming bassline, again backed with a glitchy drum line, to create an effect neither driving nor relaxed, yet somehow compelling. “Milk,” by contrast, feels a bit like a contemporary tune picking-up where Leftfield left off with “Snakeblood” – an easy compliment, to be sure.
In general, vocals are used sparingly, but to great effect, adding enough texture and variety to keep the album from going too deeply into IDM or ambient territory, yet never too much for it to be a pop album. Indeed, it is the winding, thoughtful pace of the album that is arguably its greatest strength; it weaves through territory that is both familiar yet desirably new, at times driving with dark urging (as on “Ilona), at other times seeming to carry tremendous weight (as on the aching “Damage Done”).
In short, this is a fantastic album, very much worth your time.