The two factions that became the German electronic group Moderat—the duo Modeselektor, aka Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, and producer Apparat, aka Sascha Ring—first met in the early 2000s while sharing a bill together. It was, perhaps, an odd coupling: Back then, Modeselektor were making dub- and dancehall-influenced breakcore, and Apparat was honing his strain of melodic electronic composition. But over a common desire to move away from the traditional techno that was soundtracking post-reunification Berlin at the time—and a love for Boards of Canada, Gescom, and other Warp and Rephlex artists—the two parties coalesced into one, while continuing to attend to their own primary projects. Their first three albums together took up a sort of abstract, dance-floor-informed electronic pop that paid as much attention to texture and programming as it did melody and vocal timbre.
MORE D4TA, their fourth LP, comes after a six-year break following 2016’s III—and after a period of getting musically reacquainted during the pandemic. That last part is key: These 10 songs are a deep reflection of the tension and anxiety of the two years that preceded their release. MORE D4TA immediately throws you off-kilter with a woozy, plunging synth line that builds into a beehive of buzzing distortion. “EASY PREY” might clarify that murky atmosphere a little, but its lyrics—"Raised among carnivorans/A bitter taste/I am just a low hanging fruit/Easy prey”—underscore the vulnerable feeling that any sentient being in 2022 can relate to. Those bleak themes don’t let up much. The instrumentals such as “DRUM GLOW” and "NUMB BELL” are unsettlingly moody. But there are moments of light that occasionally fleck the darkness. On “MORE LOVE”—inspired by Botticelli’s Venus, which hangs in Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie, where Ring made regular visits during the pandemic—Apparat sings, "Breathing life into dead trees/The first to stand alone/The night is worn, the night is gone/She keeps on dancing, mother of all” through a crunchy digital haze.