Apparat (aka Sascha Ring) is a slick collaborator. His cerebral and spacey take on techno works like a cosmic angle-grinder, smoothing other people’s tunes into edgeless beautiful things, like musical pebbles. On the Orchestra Of Bubbles album he produced with Ellen Allien, the overall feeling was of gaseous propulsion. Allien’s usually severe minimal stylings were coated in layers of oily synths and ejected heavenwards. It was a stunning collaboration.
Collaborating with Modeselektor on the Moderat album, you get the feeling things aren’t going to be as easy for him. See, their music’s brilliant raison d’etre is pretty much that it is all over the shop. They’ll skip from techno to hip-hop and back again by way of dubstep as soon as look at you. The only thing you can be sure about with them is that a bass drum will drop like a comedy anvil with ferocious regularity across their records and nothing will merely be fat when it can be phat. Surely, if Ring took the edges off these guys, something would be lost in the process…
Interestingly, the Moderat album succeeds to an extent because of what the Modeselektor boys bring to the Apparat party (and there was State thinking it would be the other way around). The first track dropped, -A New Error’, illustrates this with style. The stoned synth which burbles into earshot is Apparat-pretty, yet lost without a tether. Suddenly, the bass bombs start to fall and the tune takes off with a bold chug that never rides roughshod over its trippy beginning.
The rest of the album takes the baton from this bold start and rarely fumbles it. The collaborative parts that are so easily delineated in -A New Error’ begin to meld on later tracks and it’s thrilling to hear both sets of musical sensibilities lock into a complex circular dance of beats and distorted analogue emissions on -Seamonkey’. And how about the minimal standard -nr.22′, which sounds like both collaborators are racing each other to a finish line, hitting glitched-out hi hats (Apparat) and insistent bass drums (Modeselektor), along the way.
It’s testament to the success of the collaboration that it’s the songs where the artists revert entirely to their signature styles that sound laziest. -Slow Match’ is a formless vapour trail and -Sick With it’ is such a hackneyed Modeselektor-go-reggae cut, you wonder whether it was scraped off the floor after ‘Happy Birthday’!
On the final track, -Out of Sight’, Sascha Ring sings the vocals. He sounds wistful and reflective, like he’s addressing the night from a hotel window. Above him, the sad synths drift toward the rising dawn. Below him, a throbbing dub-step party is still in swing somewhere. It’s a nice dichotomy and an apt finish to a fruitful meeting of talents.