Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Modeselektor- Monkeytown REVIEW

Monkeytown is the first full-length LP from Modeselektor since 2007’s Happy Birthday (excluding the 2010 compilation album, Modeselektion Vol. 1). It doesn’t really seem that long since we last heard from the Berlin duo- mostly because they have managed to pop up sporadically over the intermittent four years through a variety of guest spots and remixes. However, without a new release to call their own, it was a little easy to take these guys for granted- and it began to seem like this increasingly ubiquitous presence was beginning to undermine their strength as original artists. Regardless, they manage to shed the “supporting player” image for Monkeytown. A juicy and efficient slice of all things Modeselektor, Monkeytown has Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary firmly within their element. While there isn’t much here that advances the art form, Modeselektor manages to throw a hell of a party without leaving their comfort zone.

Admittedly, Monkeytown is a little top heavy. At eleven tracks, the first six tunes are nothing short of electrifying while the final five are mostly serviceable with infrequent bursts of memorable glitch. Modeselektor has made a career out of their wide array of genre-dabbling and that is on full display here. Monkeytown experiments here with classic club-ready techno, dubstep, hip-hop, even a dash of R&B. For the most part, this wide palette works extremely well. It’s a testament to Modeselektor that, while the album features it's fair share of lengthy tracks, they never fatigue or lose interest. Even during the less-than-stellar moments, listening to Monkeytown always feels as if you are part of something exciting and alive. Album opener “Blue Clouds” is a rollicking six minutes of dubby beats over an ambient, Royksopp-esque drone. Other notable tracks include the ethereal “Shipwreck” featuring Thom Yorke, an avant-garde dubstepper with subtle 8-bit influences that rivals Happy Birthday’s “The White Flash” (Yorke’s previous Modeselektor collaboration) in terms of sheer awesomeness. The highlight of Monkeytown though is “German Clap”- a pulsating club-ready monster of a song equal parts playful and menacing. The album itself has a number of various guest spots that reflect the expanses of Modeselektor’s sound such as the aforementioned Yorke (who shows up on “This” as well as “Shipwreck”), Busdriver (effectively memorable on “Pretentious Friends”), Otto Von Schirach (deliciously sinister on “Evil Town), Miss Platinum (heartfelt in “Berlin”), PVT (barely registering on “Green Light Go”), and Anti-Pop Consortium (utterly forgettable in “Humanized”). In the end, Monkeytown is relentlessly fun and- with the exception of the cerebral "Shipwreck" and "This"- refuses to be anything more. Serving as an effective reminder that Modeselektor can pack a punch of their own, the album is a placeholder LP that will inevitably precede bigger and better things. For those of us who didn’t need the reminder, let’s hope it doesn’t take four years to hear from these guys again.


Here is the link to FPT's Modeselektor interview.

- Fr. Jones

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