Modeselektion at Fabric – 16th June 2018

Techno isn’t just rudimentary 4×4 beats or terse kickdrums, and Modeselektion has the legacy to prove it. Organised by the eponymous Modeselektor, a true titan of Berlin techno, Modeselektion has been a coming-together – both as a compilation album and accompanying club tour – of the best and brightest operating in techno’s international avant-garde since its conception in 2010, a platform for those railing against conservative patterns and dogmatic loops to explore sounds and ideas brilliantly and often unsettlingly fresh. Off the back of Modeselektion Volume 4, released a few weeks ago, the outfit are in the middle of a world tour, which just happened to make an explosive stop at fabric last Saturday.

First off was a fun, skittish run with rRoxymore in Room 1, who proffered some afrobeat flourishes in line with the breakbeats which would come to characterise the night, climaxing in her superlative ‘Cosmopolitanism’, one of the highlights off Modeselektion Vo. 4. Shuffling over to Room 2 for Skee Mask’s whirligig set was exhilarating. Off the back of the enthusiastically received Compro released last month, the Munich producer eschewed the muted minimal techno of his recorded work for some thrillingly uptempo breakbeat surges, interrupted by fleeting vocal-centric, off-kilter house, before concluding his set with Death Grips’ disembowelling ‘Lil Boy’, a helluva bruising way to bow out. In the space of a few months he’s become one of my favourite electronic artists, and Saturday validated him as one of my new favourite DJs too.

For Modeselektor’s arrival Room 1 was busier than I’d ever seen it, practically impregnable. After attempting in vain to skirt round the dancefloor’s periphery, though enjoyably soundtracked by frenetic to-and-froing between dirges off Modeselektion Vol. 4 and even some longstanding Modeselektor classics, we conceded defeat – a shame given we missed ‘Kalif Storch,’ a contender for the best pure techno track of the year – and returned to Room 2 for Vatican Shadow (one of techno industrialist Dominick Fernow’s cavalcade of aliases). Vatican Shadow’s elongated track names and studied self-seriousness are nearly parodic, but dude can spin a techno set and throw some admirably odd shapes from behind the decks. Probably the most traditional run of the night, nevertheless it tenderised and pulverised, wilfully ignoring respite or troughs, only hastening and hardening rather than drawing things back. An hour alone was exhausting, mushed through a modular blender. Escaping into the twilight of Farringdon, everything – car alarms, sirens, jittery roadworks – seemed to trundle to the Modeselektion breakbeats.

Photo by Nick Ensing

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