Welcome to Monkeytown

Welcome to Monkeytown

Modeselektor are a band that formed soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and their musical arc over the past decade has been appropriately thundering, celebratory and without borders, seamlessly incorporating elements of IDM, hip-hop, jazz, dub, and pop. Their genre is at best haphazard; no one knows what to call it, everybody moves to it. Their tunes work equally just as well with a bag of kabenzis as they do with a hit of MDMA or acid, and often both will do.

Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary started out as DJs, evolved into a production team, and in the process ended up becoming full on songwriters. Sometimes they sound like two scientists breaking new territory, other times like two kids breaking into their parent’s weed stash, but their compass always points to the dance floor. None other than Thom Yorke has appeared on two of the duo’s last three albums and seems to be their biggest fan.

They’re more of a musician’s musician over in America, a DJ’s DJ, but the Americans in attendance at either of their two New York shows last week (one at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, one at Webster Hall) didn’t seem to mind the outside world’s lack of interest. “Yes!” was all anyone could seem to say over tracks from Happy Birthday! and Hello Mom!. This is because Modeselektor sound better live: Unlike many of their producer/musician/DJ counterparts, Bronsert and Szary prefer the stage to the studio, and their tunes take on a new dimension when heard in real life. It’s like a DJ set, only they’re DJing their own stuff. James Murphy, are you listening?

Technical, bottom-heavy, calculated with every gesture; even their name comes from a machine function on the Roland RE-201 space echo analog delay effects unit. One can imagine these two sitting in the corner of the discothèque arms crossed sipping on a pint of vodka lime, nodding slowly under the flurry of lights. But considering they called their last album Monkeytown we can assume they don’t take themselves too seriously. The same goes for their music. “I wanna make you sweat―bass bass drum! Hyper! Hyper!” one song boasts. “We put some energy into this place―I want to ask you something: are you ready?”

Lane Koivu