Modeselektor, Monkeytown

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 11.08.11 in Reviews
Charming as well as antic

A colleague once said that Modeselektor — Berlin duo Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary — started out as IDM and went into hip-hop and electro, but to listen to Monkeytown, their third album, is to realize just what hash they make of those distinctions. Which doesn’t make that colleague wrong, or mean that these tracks are unclassifiable. “Blue Clouds” kicks the album off with a bustling, dubsteppy flurry (spiraling strings and deep bass drum, not bludgeoning bass lines), “Pretentious Friends” is tweaky hip-hop (with L.A. MC Busdriver cracking on the Cannes Film Festival, among other things), and “German Clap” sets oscillating, fritzed-out synths against syncopated house rhythms. It’s hard to imagine much of it crossing over to the pop world, as some folks seem to think — having two tracks with Thom Yorke on them is no guarantor of that, for sure. But Monkeytown is charming as well as antic, and Yorke’s appropriately spectral spots — on “Shipwreck,” which 15 years ago would have been called “drill & bass,” and “This,” which could soundtrack a blockbuster’s underwater sequence — certainly do their part.