Review Summary: This is not what you had in mind
In regard to Moderat’s most recent album, Sascha Ring told “there was a little bit of therapy involved” in the process. Ring, better known as Apparat, has more or less become the frontman of the electronic collaboration, and the interview shows how draining the role is for him. Sure, it must be cathartic because he has the ability to channel his emotions into his work, and directly through his voice. But he explains that when he couldn’t sing in the way he felt II
demanded, he’d beat himself up for it. Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, collectively known as Modeselektor, simply had to be patient until their partner felt capable of progressing with them on the project. “That’s probably why one of the songs was called “Therapy"," Ring mumbled a few moments later, laughing about his artistic growing pains in hindsight.
On better days, the musician had to work on his imperfections; on the worse ones he just had to accept them and move on. After all, it must’ve been difficult for him to adjust to being in a much poppier project on II
. “Therapy” finds itself surprisingly accessible for the same crew that released the abnormal, yet arresting debut that was 2009's Moderat
-- especially considering the song is sugar-sweet from the get-go, a far cry from the group's earlier material. The manipulated vocal samples here, smooth as silk, run on top of the emotive synth lead to head into the heart and soul of the track: high-pitched squeals, hefty percussion and that melody
. It’s memorable in every sense of the word, and yet, something about it is so poignant.
Part of the reason II
feels so dear to Ring is that the record focuses on him much more than its predecessor. While Moderat showcased Modeselektor’s schizophrenic soundscapes, this record almost feels like a distant relative to Apparat’s widely acclaimed Walls
-- pop-savvy, glossy and yet, intensely personal. It’s music that wouldn’t be out of place in a Levi’s commercial, but it also holds a dear message to its sleeve; it appeals to both the electronic newcomer and the seasoned electro-veteran. There are the four-minute highlights: “Bad Kingdom,” with its forthright percussion and Ring’s infectious vocal melodies, insist on reeling in the listener. The track keeps Moderat fans sated in the long run, too, with choral swells that imbue more and more meaning to the track with each passing minute. And “Let In the Light” finds yet another addictive melody to mold-- Ring finds his place here, crooning in a fashion that spearheads the song’s moodiness.
isn’t exclusively singles-- album centerpoint “Milk” argues that all by itself. The song is more than ten minutes of sanguine house music that wouldn’t be out of place on Jon Hopkins’ latest record-- not an achievement to be taken lightly. The song takes up a quarter of this record’s runtime, but it’s even more important than that for Moderat. “Milk” functions perfectly fine without vocals-- it even gets a pass for that first minute and a half of sheer stagnation, because by the time it winds up, the tune is on fire. It’s the kind of music that nobody, perhaps not even Moderat themselves, expected from this record. Sure, II
was bound to be fun-- the group’s self-titled release a few years back told us that much. But this is something entirely different, from the rest of this album, even. There are cuts like “Gita” that are digestible from the get-go, and more than likely, that’s Modeselektor’s impulse for immediacy at hand. But “Milk”, man-- it’s on another level that embodies all of Moderat’s strengths into a single song. It’s prolonged because it gives Ring a chance to step away from the microphone, and towards the producer’s seat again-- where he piqued our interest in the first place. Maybe his brand of therapy doesn’t lie in pushing together the pieces of the Moderat puzzle, but in merely existing as a part of it.