When Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary of Modeselektor and Sascha Ring of Apparat joined forces with a composite name, they became the Brangelina of German techno. In this ordinarily underground world the trio have star power, so their first album in five years was quite an event in 2013, as are two rare London shows this week. The European accents throughout the crowd proved their international reputation.
Facing the usual problem dance music has of how to entertain while doing something, or possibly nothing, behind bland workstations, they employed two translucent screens bisecting in a cross that were a blizzard of shapes and lines, hands and comic strip images.
Ring had a decent voice when he sang on tracks including Rusty Nails and Last Time but struggled to engage fully from behind his desk.
Although the catchiest moment was Bad Kingdom with its pop chorus and glowering dubstep bass, the trio sounded sharpest on some of the longer instrumentals. Songs such as A New Error and No 22 rewarded patience with some overwhelming passages, and beats that didn’t build to a gradual climax in the traditional manner but exploded out at you all of a sudden.
One part of Milk sounded as though it was being played underwater, before it burst to the surface in thrilling style.
This gig venue was not the ideal space for them, rammed with people who had no room to dance and stamped and jostled when they tried. Yet they seem to be becoming more of a song-based act, with Ring singing often and even picking up a guitar for the primal thud of Les Grandes Marches.
They may be too big for the clubs now, but this supergroup was most super when it kept those late night dancefloor sounds at the forefront.