Modeselektor, Happy Birthday!

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Berlin techno pranksters come correct — with Thom Yorke in tow.

More than just an album on which Thom Yorke appears (though the presence of the guy who's supposed to be fronting Radiohead is not exactly insignificant), Happy Birthday! is a pleasingly messy and chaotic collection of songs by a duo from the goofier outer reaches of Berlin's techno scene. Modeselektor make sounds suited for dance clubs — check the dark, refracted beats of “B.M.I.” and the pre-peak primer slathered over “Godspeed” — but more often they wander a less charted middle ground between club tracks and would-be radio songs. “2000007″ features guest verses from the French rap group TTC in what sounds like an old-school hip-hop interlude from a Transylvanian children's TV show, while “Let Your Love Grow” enlists singer Paul St. Hillaire in a spell of mournful space-reggae dubstep. Then there's “The White Flash,” the one with Yorke: Over a bleepy banger of a track run at mid-tempo, a disembodied voice passes by mostly in wisps and layers that build to reveal Yorke murmuring “you have all the time in the world.” He doesn't sound certain of what he's saying, but the eerie beauty with which he says it makes time immaterial anyway.