The name Moderat is a portmanteau of Modeselektor and Apparat, two collaborating German IDM artists. An earlier 2002 collaboration between Apparat's ethereal shoegazer style and Modeselektor's Aphex Twin-inspired club beats fizzled, but this time the groups find an arrangement that works. [rssbreak] The result is pragmatic but also quite creative and surprisingly catchy.
Before Modeselektor toured with Radiohead on the heels of their Happy Birthday! and Apparat found acclaim for his stargazing electro dream-pop, there existed an early incarnation of Moderat. Back in 2002, Modeselektor's Sebastian Szary and Gernot Bronsert linked up with Sascha Ring (Apparat) to lay down a collaborative full-length and, gently put, it didn't work out. The trio found the recording process so personally damaging they named the resulting material (which, tellingly, became an EP) Auf Kosten der Gesundheit ("At the Cost of Health").
In 2003, long before Modeselektor and Apparat became critical darlings independently of each other (Modeselektor with Happy Birthday! and Apparat with Walls) they collaborated as Moderat on an EP for Ellen Allien's Bpitch Control. The four songs making up the EP were so exhausting to produce that the trio called it Auf Kosten Der Gesundheit (“At the Cost of Health”) and dropped plans for a follow-up LP. They stayed in touch, working on remixes for one another and co-producing a few tracks, but the idea of a full-length was forgotten until they ran into one another last year on the streets of Berlin.
Following on from a much earlier collaborative single, the first full-length effort pulling together Modeselektor and Apparat -- despite a name that suggests a Depeche-loving rodent -- has plenty to offer without entirely being a full-on slam dunk. Then again, this wasn't entirely surprising given the high quality both acts had been showing in the past, simply because it might almost have been too much to expect for a next-level release; instead, at points it feels more like a logical continuation of their immediately preceding efforts than a new hyperfusion. Still, at a time when the vast majority of critical attention got focused on Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas' admittedly excellent second album, it was refreshing to hear something happily dedicated to dance and electronic influences on separate if sometimes parallel lines, ranging from stern EBM sonics to filter disco and schaffel and more besides -- and this all within the first song "A New Error" alone.
Though the outfits Apparat (Sascha Ring) and Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) are both practically household names in German techno by now, the two groups actually collaborated on a lone EP as Moderat before the bulk of their recorded careers got underway. With the full intention of transforming their cooperative into a career path, the four painstakingly intricate glitch-hop tracks were dubbed Auf Kosten Der Gesundheit, or “At the Expense of One’s Health”, in honor of the exhaustion endured during their creation. Perhaps traumatized by the event, the three split and were not heard from again until now, seven years down the road.
With the exception of football and managing a national economy, Germans doing things better than the Brits is something we’ve largely learned to handle these days. But the fact that they could do something not only better, but with more humour as well, still runs contrary to all our stereotypes of a hyper-efficient but dour Deutschland. Which is what makes Modeselektor such an oddity to some, since here are two Berliners who take some of the best things about British music – the love of gut-rumbling bass, the smash and grab raid of influences and even Thom Yorke – and paste them together with a sense of both adventure and the ridiculous.