Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Crooks & Lovers // Mount Kimbie // (hotflush)

There was very little to go by to guess what this record would sound like, but the hype surrounding this release has been incredible nonetheless .Mount Kimbie have vaguely come from the disparate dubstep scene, yet they have obviously distanced themselves by incorporating a wide variety of other styles, especially minimalism. I don't want to get too hung up on pigeonholing the band or the record, for one it is boring and secondly this LP is so sparse, so formless and so natural that it stands on it's own.

Mount Kimbies' two EPs showcased a sleek production sense, a juxtaposing sparse areas of sound with areas of complex beats. The songs where highly complex and protean, swapping intense beats for blissed-out melancholia at a moments' notice. On Crooks & Lovers the two-piece has used the larger canvas the format offers to draw out this dynamic over 35 minutes, heightening the contrasts of dubstep-inspired beats and ambient soundscapes, extracting huge emotional power from minor changes. The process, surprisingly, is entirely natural and what is most striking is the bands' confidence to be so subtle and minimalistic on their first major release. It just shows that they have a clear vision of what they want to create.

Furthermore, the inclusion of live instrumentation has warmed what was some coldly electronic parts of the EPs. The first track Tunnelvision and near-identical mid-track Adriatic feature a sampled acoustic guitar over a shuffling beat, while Field acts as the antithesis of the duos defining track Maybes featuring a lofi guitar in its second half. The live instruments are fittingly modest, being mainly the acoustic guitar on nearly half of the tracks, and a broken harpsichord on the swaggering Before I Move Off, which allows the band to use them live. Not to say that the album is completely pastoral, Carbonated and Ruby both explore very electronic worlds, the latter sounding similar to Burial. Like Burials' Untrue the album flows between songs effortlessly, with the intention of creating an overarching atmosphere rather than individual songs.

Overall, the album seems like a sleeping giant, the craftsmanship and attention to detail is exquisite, yet it seems that it could rear it's at any time and get frantic. The closest it comes are on the closing tracks Field and Mayor, where the beat gets more insistent and, on the latter track, funkier. Their place in the album shows that Domonic Maker and Kai Campos are intelligent DJs, using the short time on the album to create and release tension; idea that the music could explode spontaneously. It is a shame that it never quite does, but the rhythmic and emotional journey that Mount Kimbie take the listener on is more than enough to make up for it.

Mount Kimbie - Would Know (from Crooks & Lovers) by Hotflush


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