Berlin duo Modeselektor made the most of the COVID-19 lockdown, spending the majority of 2020 writing, recording, and revising material in their studio. 2021 brought a spate of releases, starting with the relentless 27-track Extended mixtape, then following with a trio of generous EPs featuring remixes by DJ Stingray, Telefon Tel Aviv, FJAAK, UNiiQU3, and several others. EXTLP wraps up this chapter of Modeselektor's career, presenting 15 tracks from their 2021 output in unmixed album form, as opposed to the nonstop flow of the mixtape, which feels closer to a live set from the duo. The album starts off with two aquatic digital dancehall instrumentals before welcoming back U.K. rapper Flohio, who was partly responsible for the best track on 2019's Who Else. Addressing the isolation and claustrophobia of quarantine life, her rhymes are vicious and laser-focused while Modeselektor spike hard-as-nails drill beats with trance arpeggios. In between some of the pair's most electrically charged club bangers, they drop into other genres with verve -- "Dating Is in China (Speed Dating Version)" effortlessly combines yearning left-field pop with Aphex-style drill'n'bass, and "Komm (Long Version)" is a heart-racing electro track that breaks for a dramatic spoken word performance by Blixa Bargeld. Longtime collaborator Paul St. Hilaire retreats into the dubbed-out cocoon of "Movement," which echoes his classic material with Rhythm & Sound as well as the late Spaceape's track on the first Burial album. The rest of the record alternates between booming techno and absurdly blown-out trap, but the tracks feel too spacious and moody for the club, more gliding than driving. Even though all of EXTLP is drawn from Modeselektor's other 2021 releases, it shapes the material into a more introspective listen, emphasizing the duo's eclectic, boundaryless nature more than their cheeky sense of humor.
by Paul Simpson