After years of being underrated and underestimated by po-faced purists, Modeselektor—and their labels 50 Weapons and Monkeytown—suddenly seem to own the zeitgeist. Tongue-in-cheek as the definition may have been, Gernot Bronset and Sebastian Szary's eclectic Euro crunk sound prefigured much of the post-everything genre-blending now driving innovation. Naturally, in this atmosphere, many of electronic music's free-thinkers, both new and old, have gravitated towards Modeselektor's imprints. Those labels have become a central European crossroads at which Berlin dub techno, UK bass music, Parisian electro, the weirder fringes of US hip-hop, the affable aqua crunk of Glasgow's Numbers crew, meet and share ideas, before spinning off in strange new directions.
Despite being a Monkeytown release, and there being a 50 Weapons compilation due next month, Modeselektion Vol. 2 is less concerned with electro and more with the two labels' collective output of clanging, melodic, hard-to-categorise techno. Although, only a fool would try to sum-up any Modeselektor project so succinctly—a typically slurring yet splenetic Prefuse 73 contribution or Siriusmo's "Modern Talk," which sounds like the Inspector Gadget theme-tune by way of early Ed Banger, hardly fit any overall aesthetic.
If such moments constitute the highly enjoyable base level here, then the best moments are staggering. He has his critics, but if you like Phon.o's stylised overcast melancholy, you will love "Fukushima." Meanwhile, the brooding, mechanical "Mode Operator (Beispiel A)" by Diamond Version—a new project from Byetone and Alva Noto—is in a borrowed leather jacket of crashing, scuzzy guitars, a refreshingly irreverent take on the post-punk and industrial influences currently prominent in techno. As for Frikstailers' "Sudaka Invasor," only the most miserable curmudgeon could deny its chattering, cut-to-ribbons take on digital ragga.
If that feels a little low-brow (serious music fans have always struggled with Modeselektor for that reason), then Monolake's "Hitting The Surface (Electric Indigo Edit)"—a delicate, rainforest-humid slice of swung, breakbeat-driven atmosphere—could not be more emotionally grave. Likewise, while more fun, Sound Pellegrino Thermal Team's "Activate," is very sonically serious indeed. A beautiful never-ending swirl of strangulated, Akon-ish vocals punctured by titanium-clad beats, it is the best example—this side of Justice v. Simian's "We Are Your Friends"—of a how a surgical, supremely punchy edit can turn a potentially humdrum track into a breathless show-stopper. In addition to the many delights of Modeselektion Vol. 2, 50 Weapons are putting out the new Shed album this month. It's fair to say Modeselektor are on a roll.
Tracklist: Various Artists - Modeselektions Vol.201. Egyptrixx - Levitate
02. Monolake - Hitting the Surface (Electric Indigo Edit)
03. Addison Groove - Manic Miner
04. Bambounou - Pixel
05. Clark - Nordic Wilt
06. Mouse on Mars - Humoslab
07. Lazer Sword - Landscape
08. Phon.o - Fukushima
09. Sound Pellegrino Thermal Team - Activate
10. Dark Sky - Ruk
11. Diamond Version - Mode Operator (Beispiel A)
12. Prefuse 73 - Death By Barber pt.1 (Haircut Zero)
13. Frikstailers - Sudaka Invasor
14. Siriusmo - Modern Talk
15. Jan Driver - Distorsione For Strings
16. Anstam - Observing the Patterns
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