If you ask yourself which is the techno label running in front of the rest right now, the answer might just be Monkeytown / 50 Weapons (a two-headed beast like Brangelina). This is their finest hour, when everything is flowing according to indisputable logic, when each movement seems to be blessed by the muses, reflecting the zeitgeist, like Ostgut Ton or Border Community did in other years: it's when the label isn't following trends, but instead sets them. We might like Modeselektor better as producers (let's not forget it's been a year since their third and best album, “Monkeytown”), but this time it's their clinical eye and infallible taste doing techno an unbeatable favour. Their two labels are the compass leading the way in the ocean of electronic music.
It all seems to fall into place right now, because Modeselektor have always been ahead of their time. What today is a common brew (obese bass lines, epileptic rhythms, new rave energy and the switching back and forth between house and old school techno, with a pinch of 90s psychedelia), they have been doing on record for almost a decade, connecting the dots with more or less clarity. Accordingly, they are now taking their vision to the next level with a selection of artists, some already known, others adapted to a new context, or even starting from scratch, that no other label has right now. This effervescence too will pass, of course, but let's not spoil anyone's party just yet. Today, now, it's that moment.
In 2010, Modeselektor released their first compilation “Modeselektion”, featuring a mix of signed, recommended and befriended artists. You could already sense a way of working that only needed some time to fully develop: the fruits promised already tasted good, but they had to ripen a little bit more. Today, in 2012, with what we now know as the 'bass scene' looking for ways to settle for a certain sound with certain rules and a fitting audience, “Modeselektor Proudly Present Modeselektion Vol. 2” offers clues to interpret scenes from the near future, like Tarot cards. The first track, “Levitate”, by Egyptrixx (not a Monkeytown artist but borrowed from Night Slugs), features some classic but ductile rhythms, like a kind of electro that was melted and then reshaped in recognisable yet somewhat chaotic structures. The second track, “Hitting The Surface” (a Monolake tune remixed by Electric Indigo) does the same, but with techno: mercurial, almost solid liquidity, highly toxic. The third, “Manic Miner”, by Addison Groove, blurs the lines between different languages (bass, footwork, dark club techno), while the fourth and fifth, served up by Bambounou and Clark respectively, point at a kind of cyberdelic chaos, a re-foundation of European golden age intelligent techno (which is why “Humoslab”, an unreleased track from Mouse On Mars, sounds so acid-like, as if Aphex Twin were chilling in the hammock of his “Iaora Tahiti”), but adapted to the convulsions of the present, not the other way around.
We could go on naming tunes (a rustle of frequencies and bass lines on the Lazer Sword piece until it all boils like a footwork soup, or the odd but very sexy mix of trap and skweee delivered by Sound Pellegrino Thermal Team), but the idea still remains the same: Modeselektor have found the connections between communities that are far apart geographically (Chicago, Cologne, Berlin, Bristol, and New York), stressing that which binds them, so that the compilation (which could also be seen as a playlist), works perfectly. Compression, fatness, digital flexibility, baroque: add to that the odd premiere (“Mode Operator (Beispiel A)” is the first track ever recorded by Diamond Version, the techno alliance between Byetone and Alva Noto) and some unexpected contributions (Prefuse 73 is here, with “Death By Barber Pt.1 (Haircut Zero)”, though there's no reason to get scared; quite the contrary, in fact: these are his densest beats since “One Word Extinguisher”) and we have enough material to dance the pogo to, bang our heads until they break and do the 'find the seven differences' game - finding the details that make this selection such a solid concept, in spite of its apparent lack of homogeneity at times. Don't worry if you feel confused: on one of the best compilations of 2012, we can find the clues for 2013 and beyond.