Modeselektor feat. Busdriver “Pretentious Friends” (MONKEYTOWN) OUT SEP 30 by Modeselektor

Wandering around Coachella and Lollapalooza this year, I was amazed by how many people stayed at the dance stage/tent almost exclusively for the entirety of the festival.  Even though their actions were almost definitely drug-inspired, those dedicated electro fans could dance and cheer as an otherwise unknown DJ played for hours— as if putting a four-on-the-floor beat behind the latest pop song is an artistic achievement.  People buy into this stuff.

It’s always comforting to recognize, then, that other artists are pushing the boundaries of the electronic genre into further, weird, uncomfortable areas.  And just because those artists tend towards the experimental doesn’t mean they’re not popular.  Flying Lotus is beloved by many, and he sounds like J Dilla on acid.  Even Skrillex— the unlikely poster boy of “bro-step” party music style— continues to amp up the aggression in his songs, slowly nudging them outside of the mainstream electro box.

Another group on the artistic outskirts of the mainstream electro genre is Modeselektor— a DJ duo from Berlin.  I noticed the duo’s name on the lineup during my visit to Lollapalooza this year, but avoided their set due to the fact that the dance stage was mostly a glorified, sloppy college party.  Also, I still had no idea who Modeselektor was at that point, and their name sounds like they could be something like a failed metal band from the 80s.  I now wish I had listened to the group before judgmentally dismissing them.

My reason for the recent discovery of the duo stems from the release of their latest single “Pretentious Friends,” which will be featured on their upcoming album entitled Monkey Town, due out September 27th.  The song features Bus Driver, a significant face in the underground L.A. rap scene.

“Pretentious Friends” recalls boundary-pushing hip-hop influenced electronic artists like Cut Chemist— whose work with Jurassic Five prepared him for features by underground MCs like Mr. Lif on his solo albums.  Busdriver fills a similar role as a quick-witted MC with an even quicker flow delivery— essentially a dark-skinned Aesop Rock.  His fast-paced rhyming style fits with the atypical rhythm of the track.

“Pretentious Friends” is danceable with funny segments in which Busdriver mocks overly pretentious people, but, frankly, it’s also a song that my pretentious friends would obsess over.  And as much fun as giving into the simplicity of those four-on-the-floor-pop-song-mashing DJs during the occasional dance party situation can be, sometimes it’s nice to admit that the pretentious guys are truly making better music.  With Modeselektor, that’s definitely the case.

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