II... Eye eye!
Review: Moderat – II
Published on July 30th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
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This eagerly anticipated second album from Moderat (or Appalektor, as we shall snickeringly dub them for our own amusement) is as downcast and anchored in minor-key-dom as you might have expected.
However – and herein lies the genius of Modeselektor and Apparat working in tandem – it somehow manages, even while wallowing, to get those little neck hairs standing to attention with sheer rapture. II is also a synaesthetic delight of a record, but that goes without saying.
As odd a choice of title as “The Mark (Interlude)” is for an opening track, its contents prove more fascinating: felty parps of synth punctuate a digital waterfall of colours, paving the way for “Bad Kingdom” to circulate rubbery bass over a clacking beat as if laying on an aural travelator for Apparat’s sweetening vocal.
“Versions” rides on something akin to a garage rhythm, one that hits a satisfying timbre and plays host to the kind of shimmering pangs of synth that you can almost feel go right through you. Then it’s time for Moderat as microcosm in the form of “Let in the Light”.
Because, you know, somehow it does. “Let in the Light” continues the coldness, helped along by some monged pitch-lowered vocals, yet succeeds in investing it with a degree of warmth. It’s a bit like the aural equivalent of when a hot/cold tap momentarily spews forth as half and half, if that makes any sense.
Despair and hope grapple for prominence throughout II, but we were wrong when we said that therein lies the genius of Moderat; in fact, it is merely part of their genius, the rest manifesting itself as cross-sensory elements so palpable that you just want to sink your teeth into them and write weird sentences attempting to convey the sensation.
For example, the rhythm section of “Milk” feels like a robot digging a well on a landscape made of shortbread. Gradually this biscuity platform becomes saturated by sparse, shimmering atmospherics that build into something oddly elating in a comedowny sort of way.
This comes as yet further testament to the conflicting emotions that Moderat are able to unlock seemingly as second nature. “Milk” is like a satisfactorily messed up cut from some chill-out compilation or other, one that you might have trouble chilling out to as it reaches its climax and begins burrowing into your skull. All the better, we say.
Is it possibly to bounce sadly? The dolorous rave of “Therapy” suggests so. The ensuing “Gita” is prodded by more felty synth as if someone or something were trying to resuscitate it, before it becomes enswirled (it’s a word now) by higher-end elements that build up then fall out again quite, quite masterfully.
“Ilona” oversees mechanical clunks punching their way through the gathered throngs of compellingly sticky rhythmic elements, then “Damage Done” buzzes, shudders and ruefully falls away. Finally, “This Time” does a splendid job of underlining all that’s gone before it, high-pitched sounds momentarily whirring downwards with a menace that breaks up the pervading introspection.
In short: another triumph for Moderat/Appalektor.
II will be released on August 5th on Monkeytown Records.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!