'A deep web of sound, that consumes you more and more each time'
Lee Coleman
15:38 31st March 2016

Moderat might be the closest thing to superstardom that Berlin’s underground can legitimately offer. Formed from the shoegaze electronics of Apparat, aka Sascha Ring, and the twitching beats and bass rolls of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary’s Modeselektor, the trio have converged upon a binary force that spells out German Quality Assurance no matter which part of the electronic spectrum you call home.

Their Third album, III, on Monkeytown Records, peels away from the more clinical beats ‘n’ bass aesthetic of their eponymous 2009 debut, and to a lesser degree their follow-up album, II. The latest offering feels altogether more rugged, more feral, more philosophical.

Opener ‘Eating Hooks’ sets the tone. Apparat’s delicate words of “Meditation, medication / Eating the hooks that tear me,” sets about the merits of not just destroying your demons but turning them into friends. The theme continues with first single ‘Reminder’. “Burning bridges light my way,” Apparat sings, a song about facing up to life and your own choices and not to simply blame others.

There is a restlessness about the album, both musically and philosophically. ‘Running’, for example, rolls and stabs until the final minute, then lifts off into a hyperreal synth finale to the words, “So I keep on running” (a reference to the idea that a crowd of people is unable to determine its direction by itself) - one of the album's standout moments.

‘The Fool’ and ‘Ghostmother’ both throw up analogue start-stop grooves, the former a big melancholic bruiser, the latter a deep ballad-wrapped percussive roller - a song which, in keeping with the album, deals with the fear of the unknown.

As a whole the final three tracks feel like a three-part outro, the most intriguing of which is ‘Animal Trails’, quaking with intensity - an IDM scattergun approach to percussion, big piano stabs and dramatic vocal cries - a track which harnesses an electronic palette with the post-punk sentiment of Fuck Buttons.

III certainly feels like a new, more experimental approach for the trio, delivering a sound which is built to fully absorb over repeat listens.

  • Daughter - Not To Disappear: Where the stunning debut, If You Leave, tended to cloak itself in metaphor - burying the crux of its meaning behind dense forests, ice, and feral animals - Not To Disappear lays itself bare. "I have a dirty mind," sings Elena Tonra in opening track 'New Ways', "I need new ways to waste my time." It's not easy to find the poetry in such stark, unsexy sentiments - but somehow, Daughter manage it.

  • David Bowie - Blackstar: Bowie could have delivered a smattering glam-rock-lite hits, a pastiche of his past glories - but there would be no challenge in that. It's not in his nature to make the same record twice. One can't help but feel that this may have been part of his plan all along. If The Next Day was his bridge back on to the world stage, one can't help but feel that Blackstar is him again leaping sideways into the breach. This is a far more bold, artful and fulfilling affair. Never second guess Bowie. Tomorrow never knows, especially when it comes to an artist always with one foot in the future - even when he's saying goodbye.

  • Christine & The Queens - Chaleur Humaine: Having long since blown up in her native France, Christine & The Queens, and her brand of beautiful, queer electro-pop, remains a relatively unknown entity on these shores. Hopefully the UK release of her debut album, complete with a couple more English language songs and a stunning duet with Perfume Genius, will rectify that.

  • Eleanor Friedberger - New View: There something resolutely unfussy about the shades of hope, love and melancholy that are woven through the third solo album of The Fiery Furnaces' Eleanor Friedberger. Settle into the warmly familiar, comforting melody of 'He Didn't Mention His Mother', for example, and miss that its edges curl with sadness.

  • Savages - Adore Life: With their second album, Savages sound is less abrasive and austere - but that's not to say they've lost any edge. They've simply adopted a new, more human form. Silence Yourself was the sound of a band first rushing from the trenches, eager and ready for battle. Adore Life is a more-rounded reflection of what it is to be human - and celebrating it.

  • Sia - This Is Acting: As its title alludes to, this album isn't an outpouring of inner turmoil or an articulation of some deeply felt emotion - or if it is, it probably isn't Sia's. That's not to say the songs are all surface - far from it. It makes for a consistently unsettling, always arresting, listen.

  • The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet You Are So Unaware Of It: Don't be fooled by the bubblegum sheen of some of the latest singles, this record is a trojan horse of weird and wonderful sounds. All in all, it's a record that owes itself as much to M83 as it does Madonna, as much to drugs and excess as feather-light touches. All in all, the eclecticism of this band is nothing short of remarkable. In a world of beige pop, we welcome this flourish of colour. Exceeding the national average, excelling in pop and smashing your expectations - accept nothing less from The 1975.

  • Sunflower Bean - Human Ceremony: On Human Ceremony, Sunflower Bean, have outshone anything they've ever previously released. The album floats in and out of the varying degrees of psych, jangle pop and krautrock, often shifting from one influence to another within a song. They say you only get one chance to make a good impression in this increasingly competitive music industry, but Sunflower Bean have taken their opportunity with both hands and run with it - charging into the future. Watch out, 2016 is going to be huge for this band.

  • School Of Seven Bells - SVIIB: When Benjamin Curtis, one half of School Of Seven Bells, died in 2013, this album nearly died with him. But, after a few years of mourning, Alejandra Deheza committed herself to finishing what she and Curtis had started. The resulting album is a shimmering, expansive record which swims through feelings of loss and regret and emerges with a sense of cautious, yet at times euphoric, optimism.

  • Polica - United Crushers: As you might have guessed from the artwork, United Crushers - a phrase painted on an enormous concrete building in Menneapolis - was recorded while Channy Leaneagh was pregnant and had "horrible morning sickness", so it's hardly surprising that it traverses between so many transformative mindsets.

  • Mystery Jets - The Curve Of The Earth: “I think these songs have real feeling about them," says guitarist Will Rees of the record - and how. Satisfying the band’s urge to experiment with sound and grow without alienating fans, the lyrics have moved into a new era while retaining their golden wistfulness. It all adds up to something that soars into the stratosphere, but remains ultimately human and real.

  • Suede - Night Thoughts: With an accompanying film, Suede have reimagined what it is to make an album - and stormed back with rekindled life and newfound sense of purpose. With a darkness in sound and poetic social imagery, they're back on fine form. Ultimately, Night Thoughts is one of the best albums of their career, it substantiates Suede as one of the most important British bands of all time - proving that they aren't losing their touch with age. Don't let this record pass you by, it's just too good.

  • Chairlift - Moth: Moth proves Chairlift are more than capable of crafting pop music with unique flare. The album beams with confidence and breezes past with coolness and addictive hooks, creating a mood infectious enough to pull us out of the final dregs of winter.

  • Soulwax - Belgica: An original soundtrack composed, recorded and produced by the band, the Dewaele Brothers have put together tracks for 16 fictional bands featured in the film of the same name. The result is a genre-defying triumph, and a journey into the depths of the sweatiest rock basements as we hedonistically blast through everything from punk and krautrock to psycho-billy, pop, and beyond. Proving once and for all, that Soulwax ARE music.

  • Bendik - Fortid: An ambitious and sky-reaching world of sound, where dream-pop meets post-rock with a whole lotta soul in between. A beautifully pure and life-enrichening listen.

  • The Anchoress - Confessions Of A Romance Novelist: Pop-noir with a vengeance hand in hand with a love of literature, fiction and darkness going hand in hand and a knack for melody, The Anchoress, aka Catherine AD truly went through the mill in the years of heartache and mishap that went into this record, but the result was more than worth the wait. The record not only 'deconstructs normative ideas of love and romance', but features a track that 'ironically references a bedroom shrine to Margaret Thatcher' and takes in all accounts of love, lust and loss. There's an unparalleled depth to this record, don't let it pass you by.

  • MONEY - Suicide Songs: The Shadow Of Heaven was an utter triumph, and that thread of elegiac warmth that they launched back only runs through Suicide Songs and binds it with a grace and sense of totality. Utterly marvellous.

  • Santigold - 99c: Santigold's third album might ostensibly - with its title and shrink-wrapped artwork - be alluding to the pitfalls of consumerism, but it's a hell of a lot more fun than that sounds. Opening track 'Can't Get Enough Of Myself' sets the tone - a joyous ode to radical vanity, and the 11 tracks that follow hardly put a foot wrong (aside from a brave but jarring camen from ILoveMakonnen).

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