Modeselektor - Monkeytown

A complete statement
Modeselektor - Monkeytown
Acid rap. Bastard dancehall. These were the phrases we hurled up to describe Modeselektor’s ruthless dismembering of genres back in 2005 as we foamed all over our own dancefloor. Nothing has changed six years on. Except Gernot and Szary simply got better at destroying us with their sonic architecture and evocative frequencies.

Legendary artists stick to their craft. Thus here they excel in progressing zones of musical conflict as they hammer together the twisted new sounds we can only describe as shattered rap, drone-hop and their exotic bash-tech before tethering it all together under the long shadows of their monumental, cerebral techno textures.

The Berlin duo’s third album is emotionally just that. An album. Since for the first time the pair wrote it side-by-side over ten weeks, allowing its flesh to become electrified with a real coherence. Hoovering up long term fan-boy Thom Yorke for a couple of tracks, they push on to collaborate with Apparat’s Sasha Ring, Warp’s PVT, Busdriver, Anti Pop Consortium and the noise terrorist that remains Otto Von Schirach. You’ll struggle to find a dance album with a start that’s as addictive nor remains as consistent as ‘Monkeytown’.

The emotive call-to-arms of opener ‘Blue Clouds’ quickly performs the great Modeselektor illusion of mutating techno into a widescreen opus that seems to displace their own dynamic drums with something more akin to frozen northern skies. The second track, ‘Pretentious Friends’, finds Busdriver in comedic rap mode, and is one of the strongest on the album as it joyrides over the wreckage that TCC wrought on both previous albums deflecting into the blistering club banger of ‘Evil Twin’ - a homage to their own ultimate weekend weapon of ‘Kill Bill Vol.4’ rinsed as a club-closer for six years across the world.

So what of Yorke’s efforts? ‘Shipwreck’ and ‘This’ could easily fit into the recent Radiohead oeuvre of ‘King Of The Limbs’, as both are animated by the same frenetic rhythms and claustrophobic tones. The latter however eventually wrestles itself from the percussive straight jacket to become a club howler of real grit.

‘Monkeytown’ is a complete statement. We thought they couldn’t get better but, possessed by constant spills, no fills and the aching heart of melancholic techno, Modeselektor remain one of Clash’s ongoing modern addictions.

9/10

Words by MATTHEW BENNETT

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