Formed in Berlin by electronic music producers Apparat and Modeselektor, the supergroup Moderat has just released their third collaboration, aptly titled III. Following the trajectory of the equally suitably named Moderat and II, their latest album refines the unique combination of Modeselektor’s deep techno and Apparat’s pared back, emotive electro.
A week into their world tour, they were originally due to play at the Corn Exchange and upgraded to the larger capacity Concert Hall, due to high demand. This was a good move, as the standing area was packed out, as well as most of the balcony seating, with excited punters, buzzing with expectation. The sign on the screen warned ‘This is a dark show’ and requested no flash photography.
After a warm up set by Shed, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary of Modeselektor positioned themselves behind their synthesisers either side of the stage, looking like a couple of bouncers, and the first bassy note filled the room. The lanky, angular presence that is Sascha Ring aka Apparat, then filled the gap in the middle, his pitch-perfect voice coming in for the first track from the new album, Eating Hooks, a slow-burning intro that hinted at deeper, dirtier things to come. The visuals of disembodied arms in symbolic positions, created a slightly sinister atmosphere.
As the tempo gradually increased, an extended version of Running whipped the crowd into a frenzy of flailing arms and nodding heads, as the geometric shapes and Moderat graphics on screen, paired with carefully considered lasers and strobe lights, enhanced the sensory experience. Ring’s vocals on Reminder, reminiscent of Thom Yorke, sent shivers down the spine, while the distorted background baritone, demanding ‘burning bridges light my way’, echoed the elephant trumpeting sound sampled on everyone’s favourite Moderat track Bad Kingdom.
Tracks such as Finder and The Fool, with its shaky keyboard melody vibrating throughout the hall, took things down a notch, before Rusty Nails ramped up the pace again. A glance up to stage right confirmed the audience with seats were on their feet and going just as wild as those below.
These electronic music pioneers know how to work a crowd and came back to perform Bad Kingdom for the encore, giving the people exactly what they wanted. To say this went down an absolute storm would be an understatement. Just when everyone was turning to leave, they came back for a surprise second encore, to mellow us all out with the primal call in Intruder, Apparat planting a seed with the lyrics ‘when I sleep at night’.
With ears left ringing, we wouldn’t be surprised if many of those present had vivid dreams after witnessing this audiovisual display of knob-twiddling genius.
Danke schoen Moderat.