Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Moderat II


One of the major cruxes of electronic music (in its early years, all the way up until today) is in the way that novice electronic artists build their music: in a totally linear and predictable way.  If you've been listening to electronica, chances are you know the formula: start some atmospheric sounds, make a synth chord progression of simple major and minor chords, a little melody line, and add a static beat.  If you're lucky, the artist will mess with some of the above ideas, but perhaps to the point that it becomes distasteful. Then, separate all of the above with a couple of breaks and snare rushes, and .... Voila!

That hasn't been what Moderat has done.  Moderat (one part Apparat, 2 parts Modeselektor, shake vigorously) have come out with another gorgeous installment of their nature of sound.  Without repeating their first album in an obvious way, this second creation makes for a lovely companion to the first. Their atmospherics and texture are frequently changing...

...and the songs' structures can be some of the most complicated in the genre: using both electronic and organic instrumentation, showing solid knowledge of syncopation, alternate chords (relationships between relatives), use of drones, and in taking one sonic idea through many landscapes with their unceasing attention to detail in their effects.

"...and drifts over to the space where she waits.
She speaks a language distilled by time to nothing more than..."

"Now I see the damage I've done; rip the tongue from my hide..."

Perhaps the strength of their work is not only their honed electronic wizardry, but also, the inclusion of guest vocalists/lyricists (like Busdriver or Delle on the first album), which gives them another medium, structure, or style to work with, work around, and be influenced by. 

Two of the tracks are a bit brief, running around 90 seconds, but even these interludes reveal refreshing little worlds of ambient texture. It's an album of many natures, foremost with a dance-club appeal:

I'm not the least bit opposed to a repetitious groove, especially if it is a well-built groove with amorphous atmospherics at work.  There are also moments of ambient chill-out downtime, and II has a bit of an experimental edge.  If I had to use their past solo projects as a reference, I'd say that Modeselektor brings the intense, fun electronic sounds to the table, and Apparat adds his melancholia, texture, and tweeked-up organic instrumentation.  The albums is a special blend of all of the above, alchemically mixing feelings of sublime groove with divine wonder.  The result is a synesthetic album for the electronic enthusiast or the audiophile.