The side-project of glitchy hip-hop duo Modeselektor and IDM guru Apparat, Moderat’s early working relationship was so fraught that they named their first E.P., Auf Kosten der Gesundheit (At The Cost Of Health). A long string of creative differences meant that their self-titled debut album only arrived seven years after they began recording it.
However, judging by their much more harmonious follow-up, II, the Berlin-based trio now appear to have smoothed over their troubles. Indeed, combining Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary’s bass-heavy electro with Sascha Ring’s dreamy atmospherics far more seamlessly than their previous effort, the album’s eleven tracks are a testament to the art of the compromise.
None more so than on the lead single, “Bad Kingdom,” an intriguing blend of acidic basslines, disjointed two-step beats and wailing sirens which allows Ring to showcase his impassioned melodic tones. “Ilona,” a lush tribal dubstep number which works its way up to an abrasive laser-firing finale, also manages to straddle the line between Moderat’s two worlds with aplomb, while the ten-minute “Milk” blends everything from New Age to minimal techno to industrial rock into one epic instrumental melting pot.
Of course, there are occasions on II where one party is audibly more dominant. “Damage Done,” a trippy slice of ambient pop which weaves James Blake-style melodies around a shoegazing synth and a rippling rhythm, is pure Apparat. Elsewhere, the Burial-esque “Versions” and slow-motion “Gita” explore the same future garage territory as Modeselektor’s last LP, Monkeytown.
But overall, the six months Moderat spent in the studio “not seeing any sunshine or daylight for a long time” has been well spent. For II is both a much more cohesive affair than their “difficult first album” and a rare example of a supergroup living up to their status.