MODESELEKTOR with C10 , KNIFEHANDCHOP , PRHIZZM , SINCERE TRADE and TYCO at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Saturday (May 27). $10 advance, more at the door. www.mathhooker.com. Rating: NNNNN
Modeselektor are based in Berlin, but the duo come across as the polar opposite of the stereotype of that city's techno scene.
Berlin's known primarily for its austere, restrained minimalism, and what Modeselektor have been cranking out is closer to maximalism. Sebastian Szary and Gernot Bronsert throw everything they love into the blender, sprinkle on some distortion, chop it up into little bits and then serve it up loud and proud.
They're not concerned with whether incorporating ideas borrowed from old hardcore rave anthems is questionable, and they're as likely to cite grime and Dirty South beats as they are to borrow some clicks and blips from glitch.
"Our audience is usually very mixed up -- all different kinds of people from different scenes," explains Bronsert from a Seattle hotel room. "We're not into only one style of music, and you can see that in the audience."
In Modeselektor's hands, dancehall collides with trance, gets mashed up with some French hiphop and, next thing you know, the drum 'n' bass snares start scattering across the monstrous crunchy bass lines.
So are they the product of some alternate Berlin underground dance scene where chin-scratching is taboo and booty-jiggling is in? Are they just the tip of the iceberg for some Euro-crunk movement yet to be discovered?
"We're not really a part of the nerdy techno scene. We tend to get more girls than guys, for one thing," Bronsert declares. "The goal is to have fun, but in a smart way."
Modeselektor made themselves a very high-profile fan a few years back when Radiohead's Thom Yorke started dropping their name in interviews whenever he got the chance. Bronsert isn't sure if that's actually led to an influx of Radiohead listeners checking out Modeselektor, but he's definitely still thrilled about the endorsement.
"I was really proud. He said it over and over again on different TV shows and interviews. For me, he's a genius, so I was very happy, but I don't know if it's had that much effect on our career. So far we haven't been asked to remix them, at least not yet."
They might not be collaborating with Yorke yet, but they have been in the studio lately with another well known British musician, and have a single coming out shortly featuring the guest artist. The only catch is, they're not telling anyone who it is.
"That's the problem. He has a big contract with a label, and he's not allowed to do any music for any other labels, even under other names, so we have to keep his identity a secret. We can say he's a very famous grime producer from London and that he's our friend, but that's it."