It’s been a long, long time since the first Modulate demos surfaced. Or at least, it feels that way – the first promo I was passed is probably over four years old, and the DJ promo that made the act’s name, Dystopia, was covered here nearly three years back. So what has happened in the meantime? Well, if you listen to this kind of electronic music, and attend goth/industrial clubs, you might – no, scratch that, will – have heard a track by the name of Skullfuck slaying the dancefloor on a regular basis. And if you’ve seen them live over the course of the past eighteen months or so, you’ll know that they are now a pretty handy live act, too.
Which brings us to this long-awaited, and much-anticipated, album. The previously released material offered some interesting pointers as to where this album was going to go, and in some respects there were more than a few options, but the perhaps sensible choice of going straight for the dancefloor started to become clear when new material began to appear in the live sets earlier in the year. That’s not to say the album is one-dimensional, by any stretch. Only two of the tracks on the album have appeared on the previous releases, Skullfuck of course (which appears unchanged from previous releases), and then one of the highlights of Dystopia – the roof-raising Revolution, which does feel that it has had a “freshening up”, but then nothing else needed to be changed here either.
So what of the new material? I’ll ignore the 25 seconds of noise that is the Intro, which blasts straight into Buzzsaw. This has been the opening track live of late, and for good reason – it’s Hostel samples (“Who wants this Motherfucker? Who wants this shit?“) act as a deliciously rabble-rousing opening before things kick off. Hard and Dirty, while tune-wise being a techno-rave monster with it’s huge, sweeping synths carrying it along, errs on the boundaries of cheesy with it’s treated female vocal sample saying how, er, hard and dirty she likes it. Much, much better is No Good a cover of the Prodigy classic that has gone down a storm live, and the vocal lines by Liz from Swarf work well.
The one track on the album that really deviates from the overarching idea of industrial techno for the dancefloor is Raising Lucifer. This is a stunning track, that takes Prodigy-esque breaks and adds dense layers of samples on top to make a track that sounds radically different to anything Modulate have done before. However, this track is simply so good that it is a pity that this sound isn’t pursued further here.
Tweekin n Funkin brings us back to the main theme again, again with a pounding beat and some ace Chemical Brothers-style Tweekin’. Better still is Bass Alert, which strikes up an alarm call before pouring petrol over everything and setting fire to it, resulting in a scorching dancefloor track that I’m looking forward to seeing the be-glowsticked hordes going batshit to in due course.
And the highs keep on coming. The closing track Drop is a comparative epic at over six minutes long when no other track on the album passes five, and it’s extended time is used well to stretch out the peaks to euphoric heights. But other than Drop, here brevity is a wonderful thing. We are in an era, it seems, where every industrial act seems to feel the need to pad out their albums with all manner of filler – be it unnecessary tracks, or a host of remixes on the end – so it is something of a breath of fresh air to see this album devoid of both filler and remixes, and being pared down to under forty-five minutes, with not a second wasted.
So after all the waiting, all the hints from the live show, Modulate has well and truly delivered here. A storming dancefloor album, that has no real pretenses at being anything else. It may not change the world, but it’s a whole lot of fun. The bomb has now been dropped, all we can do now is sit back and watch it explode.