Berlin electronica at Soviet tape factory

  • 2014-06-04
  • Staff and wire reports

RIGA and BERLIN - In the video for Moderat’s newest single, “Last Time,” a young motorcyclist flees their sleepy hometown, their childhood companions, and escapes to the loneliness and anonymity of “the big city.”
The story line could be a metaphor for the German group’s success. Like the protagonist of the video, Modert’s music has been propelled from the cult-like nest of Berlin’s electronic music “scene” to a global and infatuated audience.
Vilnius will be one of 28 stops in that journey, on June 20, as part of Moderat’s anticipated European 2014 Festival Tour, which will bring the band to cities including Istanbul, Tbilisi, and Moscow.

The venue for the performance could hardly be more appropriate. Vilnius’ LOFTAS: Art Factory is located on the site of the former electro-technics factory ELFA. From the middle of the last century, ELFA produced tape recorders for the entire Soviet Union. It is now a multipurpose space, capable of hosting fashion shows, seminars, film screenings, exhibitions, art performances, even sporting activities.

The venue’s priority however is “to provide a space suitable for people to go wild in.” Later in 2014, LOFTAS will host Darkside: Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington, and U.S. based Onyx.
Moderat are an amalgamation of two groups, Modeselektor and Apparat. Each group has earned accolades apart, but seem unstoppable together.

Modeselektor consist of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary. Together with a veritable army of featured and guest artists and with their two labels Monkeytown and 50 Weapons, they have built a broad collaborative network. They assimilate and process the tiniest vibrations in the global bass continuum and at the same time, their wobbly salvos and their oblique sense of humor are unmistakable. They became known to a select audience through their records on BPitch Control with which they catapulted themselves out of the Berlin 4/4 cosmos, while simultaneously reflecting the raw and full-on spirit of the 1990s Berlin club scene.

Apparat, whose real name is Sascha Ring, could hardly be more opposite. He fuses tricky electronics with heartfelt and auspicious pop. Early in his career, Apparat realised that the LP was his preferred form. With each album, he’s reinvented himself on a personal, stylistic and social level: gradually bringing ever more strata of his emotional persona to light, exploring previously unknown musical styles and involving guest musicians in the process.

Moderat members collaborate with the most respected labels in the industry including BPitch Control (founded in 1999) and Monkeytown Records (founded in 2009). These labels are shorthand for quality, they are seals of approval, a guarantee. Combined, their rosters boast Ellen Alien, Siriusmo, Dillon, and Dark Skye. Moderat have become an essential component in both labels’ reputation.

Among Moderat’s collaborations is an unlikely project with UNICEF. “When UNICEF asked us if they could use ‘Gita’ for a video for their campaign against domestic violence, we agreed immediately. Working together with UNICEF means being part of something for the greater good.”
2013 proved an eventful period for the band. One month after the release of II, their most recent record and second studio album, released by Monkeytown Records in August, Ring sustained minor injuries after a motorcycle accident in Berlin. Although he made a full recovery, Moderat postponed all performances until after January 2014.

The group said of the release of II, “Moderat as a fusion of Modeselektor and Apparat is a mutual path that hasn’t been, and will never been easy. Well, it’s simply more than ‘just’ making music together. It is, again and again, an experiment of exploring our similarities and differences.”

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