Not dressed for excess.

Not every collaboration needs to be Aerosmith's cock-rock kicking through the wall of Run-D.M.C.'s hiphop studio, but a little artistic friction can certainly make for interesting sparks.

You could infer some such friction from Auf Kosten der Gesundheit, the 2002 debut EP from Moderat, a collaboration of Berlin techno luminaries Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) and Apparat (aka Sascha Ring). The EP's title translates from the German to "at cost of health," and the story goes that all three producer/ musicians just barely got its four tracks out of the studio and off to mastering before they all broke down in exhaustion and illness.

On that EP's "Mode 2," you can just barely make out the tonal washes typical of Apparat as they struggle to get up over Modeselektor's stuttering, chopped-up vocal samples and trunk-rattling, hiphop-echoing beats. But more than conflict, the EP mostly just felt unfinished, like sketches of Modeselektor beats with Apparat's synth pads simply tacked on top—not only not clashing in dramatic ways or kicking down stylistic walls, but not even fully synthesized.

(In the time since, both acts have gone on to produce outstanding work as collaborators, though not with each other: Apparat scored his breakthrough working in tandem with Ellen Allien on the stately electronic suite Orchestra of Bubbles; Modeselektor, on their albums Hello Mom! and Happy Birthday!, have worked with everyone from puppet-rap crew [yeah, I don't know, either]Puppetmastaz to Thom Yorke of Radiohead, with whom the duo went on tour in 2008.)

Their new album, Moderat, better realizes the potential sketched out in their previous work, not of a quarrelsome soundclash, but of a seamlessly integrated sound. Because, really, as tempting as it is to pigeonhole each act—Apparat as the swoony, ambient electro popster and Modeselektor as the glitchy electro-hop humorists—they have far more in common than they do in conflict. Apparat knows his way around a hard beat and a tweaked sample, Modeselektor are just as accomplished at producing lush analog ambience or a pop vocal turn, and both have several tracks that combine the above elements to make for music as heady on the headphones as it is on the dance floor.

On Moderat, the three producers all meet in their shared middle ground, the space where their harder edges are softened, their glitchy tendencies debugged, their ambient sides anchored by more thoroughly bumping beats.

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Lead single "Rusty Nails" and album closer "Out of Sight" both open with dusty, echoing dubstep beats that could've been lifted from Burial tracks, before Ring takes numb, mumbly vocal turns over pinched synths and submerged bass. "Slow Match" and "Sick with It" both feature guest vocal spots, both lightly toasting; the former features a low-growling and slightly sinister sounding Paul St. Hilaire (of Rhythm & Sound), the latter a regrettably thin and overwrought spot from Frank Dellé (aka Eased from Seeed). "Porc#1," with its circular guitar line, highlights Ring's increasing use of acoustic instrumentation in his various productions. "Seamonkey" and "No. 22," with their hypnotic, off-grid beats, recall Modeselektor's fluency in switching between and stitching together the rhythmic patterns of techno, hiphop, dub, and beyond. Throughout, the album sounds like a perfectly polite compromise, some songs recalling specific sounds or moments from the constituent players' individual records, but never in such a way as to disrupt the whole.

On the act's website, there's a promotional video showcasing Moderat's nonaudio portion, the graphic-design/video team of Pfadfinderei, whose work appears on the new album's DVD version and who will be providing live visuals for the group's performances, which are sure to be stellar if previous sets by the separate acts are any indication. Also featured on this video are some rather bland sound bites from the collaborators about the album's recording process: "Everyone had to hold back a bit," "We actually agreed on a certain aesthetic and feeling," "A soundtrack," "We just wanted more space in the music, a lot of reverb and range." And crucially: "The name was the motto—Moderat." Such a modus operandi means that while Moderat is a fine record, it's also not the most exceptional thing these guys have ever produced (it might make you want to dig out their other records, in fact)—a success, but a moderate one. recommended