When electronic music veterans Modeselektor and Apparat collaborated on their first joint album as Moderat in 2009, it caused quite a stir. Back then, Modeselektor’s Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary were known for their bass-laden dancehall and techno stompers—fans include Radiohead— while Sascha Ring, aka Apparat, was producing fragile ambient anthems.
As a supergroup, they’ve created a melancholic electro-pop hybrid that has earned them top-10 chart positions and sold-out shows in Europe. To celebrate the release of third album III, Szary talks us through five songs that have had an impact on his career.
The Beach Boys - “’Til I Die” (Alternate Mix) (from Endless Harmony Soundtrack)
“I discovered this version of the Beach Boys’ classic in a TV adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play Hedda Gabler. The vibraphone intro on the track is incredible. Obviously, like most of the Beach Boys’ songs, it has a clever melody, but I was also impressed by the instrument’s floating, metallic sound – so much so that I bought myself a vibraphone. I’m still an amateur, but I used it on a few tracks on our new album.”
Laurie Spiegel - “Drums” (from the album The Expanding Universe)
“I was searching online for exciting electronic music from the ’70s when I came across Laurie Spiegel. She’s a fascinating character: still active at 70 years old, but very reclusive. This gem was recorded in the year I was born – 1975 – but it sounds more modern than a lot of current techno tracks. Spiegel was using special sequencers back then that made her music sound very precise and futuristic.”
Laurel Halo - “Thaw” (from the album Quarantine)
“The [illustrated] cover of Halo’s debut album, Quarantine, shows schoolgirls killing themselves, which says a lot about her radical approach. This tune is a great example. The lyrics are unsettling and very personal, and the music is so dense, with weird rhythms. Halo is one of the most interesting personalities in music at the moment, because she disregards conventions and explores new territory with every new record.”
Speedy J - “Evolution”
“This techno classic from 1991 changed my life. It takes me back to Tresor, the club in Berlin where some of the city’s earliest techno parties took place. If you managed to get past the strict bouncer on the door, you’d enter a new world where strobe lighting, dry ice and heavy beats were the only things that really mattered. It was a completely new way of partying. I was 16 years old at the time and I loved it.”
Depeche Mode - “Never Let Me Down Again” (from the live album 101)
“This is a song all three of us love dearly – especially the live version that appears on 101. When we work on set lists for our tours, we usually take a look at Depeche Mode’s for inspiration. Not that we have nearly as many hits, but their shows are perfectly structured, which we witnessed for ourselves a few years ago when they played in Berlin. [Singer] Dave Gahan’s scream at the beginning of the song is my personal highlight.”