After the post-punk atmospheres of last year’s Love What Survives, Mount Kimbie return to dance music with a DJ set that proves them to be both adventurous selectors and cagey mixers.
For some artists, it can take some effort to get out from under the shadow of the scene they came up in. Consider Mount Kimbie, who got lumped into the “post-dubstep” bucket alongside James Blake (whose post-2010 output has put considerable distance between himself and that descriptor). Last year’s spiky Love What Survives found the duo of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos more inclined to draw on post-punk and German kosmische rather than dance music. True, they kept up a sideline DJing bass music and grime, but they consider themselves a band first and foremost, telling Resident Advisor, “We weren’t as massively into club culture as a lot of people… We never intended to DJ at all.”
With post-dubstep fading in the rearview, Mount Kimbie provide the latest entry in the long-running DJ-Kicks series. Despite their alleged intention not to be DJs, the mix proves them to be not only adventurous selectors but cagey mixers as well. They embrace both mellow, metallic-tinged rhythms and full-on roaring techno, moving swiftly between the two poles with a set that breathlessly cycles through over 20 tracks in just under 50 minutes. It’s restless yet steadfast in its direction. The mix ramps up quickly, moving from the watery abstractions of vocoder composer Madalyn Merkey to the shimmering electro of Via App’s “Baby K Interaction” and the distorted flicker of early-’80s Australian industrialists Severed Heads. The latter two artists both set the mood of the mix and also make return appearances.
Barely five minutes in, the mysterious gamelan ensemble De Leon and their measured metallophone cadences emerge. Such clangs hark back to the driving pulses behind Love What Survives (think of the mbira-like plinks on “Marilyn” and “SP12 Beat”)—a burnished timbre that the mix returns to often, from the spark-spraying whiplashes of Object Blue’s “Even in You” to the subway-construction echoes of Mount Kimbie’s own contribution, “Southgate.”
What might initially scan as detours—like the experimental chirrups of cellist Oliver Coates and the tumbling percussion and electronics from the duo of Beatrice Dillon & Rupert Clervaux—all fold into Kimbie’s undeterred trajectory. Same goes with the hardier dance tracks. Whether in the pinging Berlin minimalism Efdemin’s “America (Terrence Dixon Minimal Detroit Mix)” or the deeper strains of N.Y. House’n Authority’s late-’80s classic “APT. 2B,” Mount Kimbie tease out and highlight each track’s experimental qualities. When the smeared, muffled vocals and squawking signals of Severed Heads’ “Lamborghini” drop into the Abstract Eye’s well-deep techno, it shows the duo’s knack for taking each new sonic element and feeding it right back into the relentless pace of the mix.
The velocity ticks upwards with Marco Bernardi’s glowering electro and the bewildering pings of Aleksi Perälä’s “UK74R1512110”; the latter turns twinkling as Nina Kraviz’s pounding techno reduction of Mount Kimbie’s own “Blue Train Lines” takes over. Kraviz atomizes King Krule’s howl, but just when it seems like the song’s cut-brakes techno climax will careen over the cliff’s edge, they land on a groggy closer in “Obviously.” Credited to the seemingly obscure duo of Taz & Meeks, it turns out to be the handiwork of Tirzah and Mica Levi: a groggy, chopped-up hybrid of R&B and 2-step that you might even call “post-dubstep.”
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