Modeselektor - Monkeytown | Album review
Modeselektor champions its love of variety on Monkeytown.
It’s not stated explicitly, but the monkey is Modeselektor’s spirit animal. Its mischievousness pervades just about everything the duo does. Self-described maximalists, Berliners Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary are keen to play around with sound. Monkeytown, their third LP, switches gears like a high-performance racer blazing down the Autobahn.
This is nothing new. Modeselektor’s appetite for music since the fall of the Wall has been both feverish and free-wheeling, absorbing as much rock and hip-hop as electronic. The group is much applauded for upending the conventions of the German techno scene, working endless variety into its albums instead stripping it away.
Monkeytown sees galloping IDM beats accompanied by Thom Yorke’s stuttering falsetto on “Shipwreck,” gnarly techno on “Evil Twin” and even electro-infused hip-hop on the hilarious “Pretentious Friends,” which features Busdriver rapping about Saudi skirmishes and Sideshow Bob. “German Clap” treads closest to straight-ahead tech, the name suggesting it’s on purpose. This range offers diverse listening and definite high points, but it also makes me long for the organized moodiness of Modeselektor’s Moderat project with Apparat.
Even though Apparat only guests on the meditative set closer “War Cry,” the influence can be heard on the lush post-dubstep of “Green Light Go” and vaguely drum ’n’ bass vibe of “This.” While all the monkeying around is inventive and entertaining, this pair of pranksters is best when showing off its serious side.