Release Date: Apr 1, 2016
Record label: Mute
On their third album, Moderat continue their exploration of the space between James Blake and Justin Timberlake, and remain a much more natural and essential act when compared to the usual "supergroup" or "side project. " Here, Modeselektor's Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary join Apparat's Sascha Ring and present wistful R&B and indie pop songs, underlined by haunting techno and with echoing production that's a cross between Basic Channel and Daniel Lanois. That's not all that different from their great 2013 album, II, but III experiments more, sacrificing none of its attractiveness while venturing into skittish micro-trap (lead single "Reminder"), exotic ethno-techno ("Animal Trails"), and something akin to Adele singing William S.
If it felt inevitable 12 years ago when Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) joined their bass-heavy warble and quirk to the eclectic emotional offerings of Apparat (Sascha Ring) to create the aptly named Moderat, then it feels even more impressive now the trio are still running strong, embarking on a world tour with the release of their third full-length, simply titled III. Their latest offering confirms the act have found footing with their sound, as III revels in minimal electro glitch while an orchestral current weaves beautifully throughout, Ring's vocals lending soulful, poignant reflection not often found in contemporary electronic music. With the exception of the odd moment of over-modulation, as in parts of "Intruder," Ring's heartfelt performance across III sheds light on one of the most powerful and underrated vocalists of the genre.
'Why must I hide / In the forests of my mind?' asks Sascha Ring – aka Apparat – in the opening lines of Eating Hooks. It’s as clear a sign as any that III, the third album from Berlin-based super-trio Moderat, is far more insular than much of the collaborators’ previous imaginings. Modeselektor’s beats are oceanic, secret-keeping, while Apparat’s vocals have found a new, deeply personal clarity: anyone who’s turned up for another Rusty Nails or Bad Kingdom will need to take a moment, because III demands thorough concentration to feel fully immersed in the album’s glitchy, dreamy neuroses.
What, exactly, traumatized Moderat so badly during their first recording sessions that they named their 2003 EP the German equivalent of "At the Cost of Health," and then took six years to follow it with a debut full-length? Though never really explained beyond allusions to fatigue and conflict, it has become such a part of the Berlin trio's lore that you'd expect a Pet Sounds-like work of self-immolating vision, not a modest EP of quietly propulsive bass music. But thirteen years later, at the end of a trilogy where tracks have almost begrudgingly given way to songs, Moderat's emotional expenditures have become more evident. III dissolves the group's diverse techno origins in crystal-clear electronic soul music that stands on a song-by-song, not moment-by-moment, basis.
Moderat often sounds like the the sum of its parts. Modeselektor, the duo of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, are known for their crunchy rhythms and party-starting rowdiness. Apparat, AKA Sascha Ring, has a moodier, more delicate feel when he's in solo mode. Toss all three of them in a room and it's big beats underlying intricate arrangements and an introspective aura.III further refines the Moderat template.
From its inception, Moderat has faced a challenge that almost every other artist doesn’t have to worry about: blending two artists’ different styles. The band, a joint project between Modeselektor and Aparat, makes particularly unique music in the electronic world, combining the dance hall, club-ready beats of Modeselektor’s Sebastian Szary and Gernot Bronsert with the ambient soundscapes of Aparat’s Sascha Ring. While they’ve done a pretty decent job in mixing these styles on their last albums, I and II, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows.
Moderat is a collaboration between Berlin’s electronic movers Modeselektor and Apparat. The warm pan- European house and techno sounds are often crowned by Sascha Ring aka Apparat’s reedy vocals, although arguably hit the mark squarest on straightforward near-instrumental Finder, which lands somewhere in the unlikely interzone between Enigma and Burial. III has a highly melodic crossover feel that is somewhat different to many of the players’ other, grittier projects, although the beats remain a little itchy.
Moderat, the unlikely electronic supergroup of Modeselektor’s Gernot Bonsert and Sebastian Szary and Apparat (Sascha Ring), concludes an evolving, exploratory trilogy with its most cohesive and emotionally involving work. With each record, the German sonic auteurs have expanded their musical reach to reveal unforeseen layers and colors. Here, they even incorporate brass while finding a more refined place between their bass-heavy foundation and warmer astral-pop tendencies.