The second official collaborative release by Berlin’s Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) and Apparat (Sascha Ring) produces much more than a side project. It’s a near-perfect exploration of minimalist and mood-driven electronica, a step above Nosaj Thing’s Home from earlier this year. Apparat was cemented as an all-time great the moment he provided the soundtrack for Gus Fring’s fateful walk into the nursing home during the season 4 finale of Breaking Bad. Modeselektor’s Monkeytown topped our list of favorite albums in 2011.
While Moderat’s 2009 debut was a fearless debut effort by the threesome, II instantly ranks among my favorite electronic albums in recent memory. “Let the Light In” and “Therapy” are standouts. The former features a highly distorted opening vocal over melodic synths before a hypnotic breakbeat leads the track into an otherworldly arrangement of various sound effects, ethereal elements, and a layered lead and background vocal. The latter is a more accessible club-friendly track that slowly builds from a minimalist experiment to a complex and layered masterpiece. An out-of-tune and moody synth rhythm with a distorted backing vocal adds a simple hip hop bass and drum beat during the first half of the song with an addicting main synth groove. The bass and drum turns into some sort of jungle trip hop-inspired barrage. There is no filler. “Bad Kingdom” is the record’s excellent first single and video. Even the 10-minute-plus “Milk” meanders in a space worth spending time in. II is one of our favorite albums of 2013.