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White Noise: Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers

Dubstep isn't as simple as it used to be. Whereas before you could hear a deep wobble and some decaying synths while off your face on the dancefloor and go 'ahhh, dubstep'; arrival of newcomers like Mount Kimbie and James Blake, who make dubstep for the home, has complicated matters somewhat.

What it really means is that you have to listen to these tracks with a different ear. You're not listening out for something that gets you on your feet, but nor are you looking for a reassuring melody or recurring chorus that gives everything a nice cosy structure. In effect, listening to this album it seems that Mount Kimbie know where they're going, but they just won't tell you. The genre influences dart from funk to RnB to glitch-hop literally within seconds, and it can all be rather disorientating.

But if I'm saying one thing here, it's that this is one worth sticking with. Granted there are no tracks that'll make you sit up and take note like classics Maybes or Sketch On Glass from their two previous EPs, but I'd argue that's because this is an album, and it requires a more subtle approach. Because once you get into this album, it really does shine. Blind Night Errand is an instant classic, the dubby build is recognisable but before you can quite latch onto it it's snatched away and glitchified (yeah, I'm coining that one) into a snappy, compressed beat that's built upon with minimal layers of synths- the combination is utterly intoxicating. When the build up evaporates with a condensed vocal sample of a woman's breath midway through the track you just want to find these guys and shake their hands.

Before long it becomes apparent that this album is studded with gems like this track. In Would Know the opening sample of lots of people talking at once fades into a fuzz as snappy beats and a lilting rhythm is established with clipped samples of a man's voice; perhaps the integration of background talking into part of the melody is a comment on the innate musicality of the world around us. Perhaps it isn't.

The album isn't showy. The triumphs are quiet, and there is no attention drawn to them. The glitchy synths grounding Before I Move Off are expertly used both in the original Asian-sounding plucked-string instrumental and the sinuous groove a sampled guitar carries through the latter part of the track. Kimbie often change their songs midway to great effect, Field's glitchy beat is transposed onto a guitar midway through the track, and stunning penultimate track Mayor is the dance hit they seem to have been threatening for the last half hour, with a choppy vocal sample that is tumbled into a glorious synthy melody. The quality of their production is also evident throughout the LP, tracks like Carbonated really shine through a high-quality soundsystem or headphones.

But their style is so chopped-up that I think it's probably going to alienate a good amount of their audience, it's just not easy to know how to listen to an album like this. And as subtle and strong as the compositions may be, the moments where the LP really shines are slightly too few and far between. It's a really interesting listen and what they're doing is pretty unique and I like it, but I wouldn't be surprised if others didn't. Still, I do heartily encourage you to at least give it a try, the skill on display here alone is enough of a reason, and I'm sure some will find a whole lot to love.


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