When German-based alternative electronica duo Modeselektor drops an album, more than a few ears perk up. Modeselektor rose to glory soon after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, when they started playing illegal underground acid house sets. They eventually gained popularity and word got out that these revolutionaries were here to stay. Since then, they’ve been iconic in the German techno and electronica scene, influencing countless artists including Boys Noize and Digitalism. Fast forward over twenty years later and the boys from Berlin have just released their third studio album, Monkeytown, alongside none other than Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and a collective of very talented singers and rappers.
The level of detail in each track on Monkeytown is evident in their distinct styles; to try to classify them according to sound would be like getting lost in a dark labyrinth. Take the second track, Pretentious Friends. Somewhere between glitch and techno, Modeselektor brings the heat while Busdriver’s mad flow is heard over the trippy beats. Same case with songs like Shipwreck with Thom Yorke, where his voice is heard lightly over a more subdued jam. It sounds very similar to Thom’s own solo work.
One of my favorite tracks has got to be Berlin featuring Miss Platnum. It’s got soul, brilliantly crafted beats, and is definitely one of the more danceable tracks on the album. I haven’t quite heard a song with all of these elements packed in before; a very unique listening experience indeed. The penultimate track, This, features robotic sounds that set the mood as Yorke’s downtempo vocals add quiet power. Dual in nature, This utilizes light and shadow to stunning effect, and in this way is reflective of the album as a whole.