Moderat started off as sort of a side project, but pretty quickly proved to be more than the sum of its parts. The duo Modeselektor and Apparat have come together for three records now, and each has taken a big step into defining what exactly the collaboration entails.
On III, the most recent LP, the trio comes together for a more cohesive sound. Anchored by rich electronics that nod to their Berlin roots, and finalized with some modern R&B sensibilities and, perhaps for the first time, really great songwriting. While I and II rely on beats and ideas, III is totally fleshed out with catchy vocals and hooks even on the instrumentals. For the first time, it feels like each song on the album was created for the album, and while it doesn’t have bangers like “A New Error” or “Bad Kingdom,” it’s probably their most accessible work to date.
As Moderat forms into its own voice, as has the live show,interjecting Berlin techno with pop sensibility. For nearly two hours they delivered a show that no one else could quite pull off. They started with “Ghostmother” before diving into “A New Error,” and everyone went ballistic. The sound-system at Webster Hall shook each patron into a dancing frenzy that wouldn’t soon come to a halt.
As the set developed, Moderat juggled the song-oriented new material with the rawer old stuff, creating a phenomenal live electronic show that is right up there with the best of them. Apparat’s voice is incredible live, and can carry a room of 1500 without a problem. Modeselektor, who were operating analog beat machines and synths, crafted each instrumental to back him up before jamming it out into full-on rave mode. “Running” and “Eating Hooks” from III displayed the trio’s most accomplished live show to date, and interspersed with now-classic jams like “Rusty Nails” and “Nr. 22,” it was nothing short of phenomenal.
The group came back for “Bad Kingdom,” “The Fool,” and “Intruder” for the encore, but it still wasn’t enough. After a huge roar, they came out for a second encore of “Versions” off the great second LP. If you have the chance to see these guys at a rare US appearance, do not sleep.
Setlist: Ghostmother A New Error Reminder Running Abandon Window (Moderat remix) (Jon Hopkins original) Eating Hooks Rusty Nails Animal Trails Last Time Nr. 22 Encore: Bad Kingdom The Fool Intruder Encore 2: Versions