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Modeselektor – Monkeytown review

Being the sizable movers and shakers they are in the modern electronic music firmament, a new Modeselektor album was always going to arrive on a wave of heavy expectation. With their extensive curatorship of quality bass music and techno, not to mention their world-beating Moderat project with Apparat, since the last long player Happy Birthday dropped the Germanic duo have hardly been resting on their laurels.

What’s most pleasing as Monkeytown roars to life is that the sound they forged their name on is still intact. The album is as full-fat as you could hope, from the grinding bass to the granite beats, while the nifty edits and rave hysteria keep the tracks rolling in a thoroughly dynamic way.

As with their other albums, they’ve drafted in guest appearances, returning once again to old buddies Thom Yorke and Otto Von Schirach, as well as enlisting the leftfield hip-hop styles of Busdriver and Anti Pop Consortium. Really though, the show is all theirs. Influence from the musical circles they’ve moved in recently do make an appearance, such as on the UK Funky style beats that propel “German Clap”, but the sound is still inimitably theirs.

There’s also a healthy amount of diversity on the album, where you can leave dark mechanical warehouse fodder only to wind up at sunkissed hip-hop swagger on the excellent “Berlin”. There are moments of a more downbeat nature too, and a large amount of the success of the album can be measured by these diversions.

Where on their previous albums Modeselektor often struggled when they strayed too far from the path, the quality never dips across the whole of Monkeytown. A sign of maturity? Perhaps, but first and foremost Modeselektor have always been about making leftfield music fun and direct. Consider this album a triumph in crossing that tricky gap between originality and accessibility, while in the process marking the most accomplished album the pair have crafted to date.

Oli Warwick