You’re probably more familiar with Moderat by now than you are with the two artists who formed to make this supergroup, but it is in fact a collaboration between the dark and experimental Apparat and the more accessible Modeselektor. Since 2009, they have been in regular collaboration, and their second album II turns five years old this week.
It opens inauspiciously, with a short instrumental called The Mark, before launching into the deep, dark, and somewhat grimy pop of Bad Kingdom. If, like me, you skipped Moderat (2009) and jumped straight to II (2013), you will have been very pleasantly surprised at this point, finding that this is very new-sounding electronic pop music.
So it continues – Versions is brilliant. Some of these tracks could easily have fitted on an album in the mid-1980s, and yet they don’t sound dated either – just somewhat timeless, and very, very good indeed. Moderat may not have ever quite made the charts (II and follow-up III peaked at 73 and 53 respectively in the UK), but they definitely deserve a very healthy cult following.
Let in the Light and the longer Milk are less dramatic – they’re still good, but they don’t grab you by the throat in quite the same way. After Bad Kingdom and Versions, though, I feel as though this album is allowed a few duller moments. Therapy is much the same – long, dark, and largely instrumental.
The middle section of this album has a whole load of this actually, and it would probably sound great in a club, assuming whatever drugs you happen to prefer are compatible with lower tempo music, but on an album it’s a little hard to swallow after a while. Aside from moments of genius which you do pick up from time to time, Gita, Clouded, and Ilona are all relatively dull unfortunately.
But we’re close to the end already – Damage Done is a pleasant, laid back vocal track, which is something there probably isn’t enough of on here actually. And then finally, we get This Time, another gentler instrumental piece to close the album. On some editions you might also get Last Time tacked on the end, which is absolutely a better way to close the album, but it didn’t start off on the album.
So there you have it – II is a good album, but it’s not a great album, unless long, deep, and dark instrumentals are what you’re looking for. But when Moderat are good, they are very good indeed, and that’s something to keep an ear out for.
You can still find II at all major retailers. Get a version with Last Time on the end, if you can.