Moderat – II (album) (Monkey Town Records – ROW) (Mute Records – US)


Nearly everything we love about music in general here at Sound Advice can be found on ‘II’, the second album from Berlin based electronic supergroup, Moderat. Three weeks after its release, ‘II’ is well on the way to being one of out favourite 5 records for 2013.

Moderat is of course the collaboration between Apparat and Modeselektor and like their self-titled debut, ‘II’ is a perfect mesh of both their respective worlds. Overall, ‘II’ is definitely less beat-driven than their self-titled debut of 2009 and without the hard hits of “Seamonkey” or the explicit darkness of “Nasty Silence“. Instead the new record is more textural and ambient but also soulful, direct and poppy.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more gorgeous track than opening track and first single, “Bad Kingdom”. Like the record as a whole, “Bad Kingdom” is at once ambient, atmospheric but grooving and smooth. Coupled with gorgeous soulful, even slightly Maroon 5-esque vocals throughout the verses before moving into an almost David Gray style chorus, “Bad Kingdom” is a certified hit.

“Versions” shows hints of Burial with its otherworldly, pitch-shifted vocals, deep atmospherics, swirling keys and hip-hop meets 2-step style beats.

“Let In The Light”continues with the hip-hop beats but this time opts for low, detuned, pitch-shifted vocals and paired with Caribbean tones.  Like the aforementioned “Bad Kingdom”, “Let In The Light” showcases the trio’s pop sensibility while retaining all atmosphere. In fact, in most cases drum loops and bass lay down the foundation for the tracks allowing glistening and atmospheric keys to swill and swirl. Combined with ample delay and reverb, ‘II” is awash with atmosphere but its soulful vocals give it the tracks a definite pop appeal.

Clocking in at just over 10 minutes is the brilliantly hypnotic “Milk”, which sits comfortably alongside the stylings of Sasha‘s ‘Involv2er‘ and ‘Invol<3er‘ albums (the former, of which included a stunning remix of Apparat track, “Arcadia”).

The hip-hop beats return for “Therapy”, an up-tempo, hook-driven and danceable number, which also serves to boast the trio’s production prowess.

The album’s most pure pop moment however is reserved for “Gita”, which features blips, pulses and Shigeto style angklung sounding rhythmic patterns yet somehow paired with sweet falsetto pop vocals. Brilliant stuff.  In contrast, fragility and emotion reach fever pitch on the gorgeous and downtempo “Damage Done”, characterised by its impassioned vocals singing “I see the damage I’ve done” and paired with layers of warm synth pads.

An absolutely stunning album, which perfectly balances atmosphere, emotion, and mood with pop hooks and edge. Moderat’s new album ‘II’ was released on 6 August, 2013 on Monkey Town Records and Mute in the U.S.

Watch the video for “Bad Kingdom” below: