Modeselektor  Monkeytown
    • MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2011

    • Posted by: Julianne Wagner

    I don't have a problem per se with electronic music-- I just want it to be smart. I want to be subjected to a physical quandary-- the impossibility not to groove while still being surprised by inhumane noises.The bass is not something to take advantage of. It ought to be a method to reign in or catapult a track into uncharted territory. Modeselektor's Monkeytown fulfills my two requirements.

    "Blue Clouds" slips out of the womb first, swapping internal for external, incessantly tripping. Over time (however you may not notice any moment passing) it develops into a simmering bass / synth oscillation. A perfect opening. Fight it or not, "bass music" is still a market to be tapped into. Right at about the four minute mark, we have the best of both worlds-- purposeful glitch and a beat that bounds without harm to the system. So much here is handled with grace. (Specifics: similar jaunt "Grillwalker", the slow-throb "War Cry", and the gurgling danger of "Berlin Clap".)

    Yet maybe I should tread more carefully with my words. Far from grace, "Pretentious Friends" is closer to hiccuping, fragmented, tweaked-out throb. Busdriver provides the wiseass cracks with ruminations about Cannes and goose liver (ah, the life!), hypnotically and electronically warping his delivery. The weird moments are best on Monkeytown. The Anti-Pop Consortium contributes to "Humanized" atop a sickeningly unsafe analog backing. Vocals are gravel or lucidity in order to survive the treacherous hot-lava swell capable of grating you to a pulp. "Berlin" thumps sluggishly staring down an actual synth wave 20 feet tall. The vocals by Miss Platinum are enlightened. As they advance from disassociated to adapting within themselves just like heaven, the track mutates into a creeping electro-R&B groove with real gravity.

    I could discern two lyrics from "Shipwreck", a neurotic tick of a song featuring vocals from Thom Yorke: "Weird and drunk" / "Oh no I'm slipping in". It gallops ahead to submit to the feelings that you're going mad, you'll be left behind-- thanks to Yorke's mechanistic repetition of whatever it is he is saying atop spinning out of control twitch. "This" sees Yorke dissected in a sinkable arena, his voice looped and skittered within ballooning shards-- memories of video game dreams, Middle Eastern electro-chant, and unconquerable terrains. To put it basely: it's epic.

    Variety is essential and nothing on Monkeytown feels stale. It may take some getting used to, but the murky-glimmer genius of this album is palpable.

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    MP3: "Pretentious Friends (feat. Busdriver)"

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