Album Review: Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives

This article was first published by The Edge on 8th August 2017

Ever since emerging in the Noughties Dubstep crowd, Mount Kimbie have challenged genre. Their interpretation of that scene practically deconstructed itself, employing elements of R&B and electronic, collated with the mystery from their warping of field recordings. Meticulously arranged production characterises the effortless feel of their tracks. Yet their third album Love What Survives demonstrates a greater relaxation than ever, along with more of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos’ boundless experimentation; Mount Kimbie now includes imperfections.

You hear patches of it littered throughout. ‘Marilyn’s percussive synths could be mixed from steel drums, or crafted from wrapping wooden spoons in towels and banging them on saucepans. Its bassline is a shifty treasure that often retreats from the overlapping percussion, while Micachu’s indolent vocals play with a completely different complexity; she murmurs “I’m looking up at you, yeah/Are you looking up at me, yeah?” emphasising detachment, compelling a surrender to the music. An attitude maximised by ‘SP12 Beat’, apparently put together by pushing xylophones down a cliff. The melodies trip over each other in a rush of expression, making kaleidoscopic surprises. However, when Maker and Campos’ persuasive bass riff unites this twinkling chaos into a singular groove, it proves that their chaos isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

James Blake’s voice cracking is a similar feature on ‘We Go Home Together’, supplying more yearning than perhaps the song needs. He croons of companionship with “And it’s the best it could’ve been/We go home together/To our innermost/We go home together/And then we leave”. This track, a shot at gospel, is more reserved than the cannon-like church organ it begins with; its bearing is more akin to an interlude than a single, a pair to ‘Poison’s truncated, toybox piano. Yet ‘Delta’ is a restless bother of repetition: insistent synths, siren like wails that snake through the closing minute, and a “Pop!” made from pulling fingers from cheeks.

The closing of ‘Audition’ sees a plucky guitar drop away as if it fell off a treadmill mid-stride. A bold end to an obsessively assembled tune – the bass line is manipulated to such a degree that it resembles a church bell’s peal, and the song slinks along with alternately soothing and fidgety synths. Here, Mount Kimbie show, if there was any doubt, that their music will only sound as massive as your speakers give them room to be. Ambience if you like, fearsome if you let them: this is a rarer trick than you suppose.

The lack of easy definitions from song-to-song makes Love What Survives the duo’s most rewarding album. This album draws as much inspiration from jazz, psychedelia, and post-rock as electronica, hip-hop, and R&B. Even comparisons to other recent experimentals fall short. The structural similarity between ‘Four Years And One Day’ and Anna Meredith’s equally hallucinatory ‘Nautilus’ only belies their distinctive moods. Her horns prioritise unease, while their number establishing synths are soothing, mixing atmosphere and melody at once before implacable drums and bass take the reins.

The King Krule featuring ‘Blue Train Lines’ is all about that bass (in his voice), and the hi-hat led drums. Archy Marshall’s signature drawl is foreboding, mean and angry on Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. Not here. There’s an angst of the heart-wrenching, broken sort – Marshall practically yelps at the close of the verse and chorus. A muffled pain emanates from the distorted synths that deftly shuffle between the notes, and that almost anti-melodic voice, intoning “I just been eating away when I found her/All drowned in grey/I might have drowned her/I caught her plate number/And yeah, I might have seen it all”. Parallels are drawn of drug, blood, and metro lines, yet these depressive subjects unite in a song that pulsates fervently from start to finish.

Tenacity defines this record overall. Whilst each song has its own flavour and genre, the textures always remain the same. These are risk-taking songs, arranged meticulously to appear chaotic, yet almost always paring down to find solid ground to dance on, literally. Kai and Maker may have made their names with deconstructions, yet their tastes have strained to expand. Love What Survives doesn’t just give them the chance to showcase that, through relaxation, it sees them snatch it eagerly and prove their worth with every minute.

Love What Survives is out now via Warp Records

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Album Review: PVRIS – All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell

This article was first published by The Edge on 28th August 2017

Given the recent revival of American emo and indie rock by bands like The Hotelier, Sorority Noise, and Boston Manor, the work of PVRIS in 2014 debut album White Noise feels out of step just three years on. Taking the wall-of-sound technique and song structures found in chart-bothering dance music, and reapplying those same techniques with rockstar vocals, bombastic drums, and *loud* guitars is an inspired trick and one that worked to their advantage in 2014. It’s also a remarkably obvious one. Produce songs as pleasantly moving as any number of Guettas, Harrises, and Aviciis have made, in the outfits of a fresh rock band? Why didn’t anyone else succeed at that? By its very nature, such a trick could only work once – if musicians were magicians, PVRIS would give away the secrets to the coolest tricks whilst performing them. Continue reading

Film Review: Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

This article was first published to The Edge on 7th August 2017

The first thing that you should know about Luc Besson’s return to the space opera genre, two decades after The Fifth Element split critics and gained cult status, is that he hasn’t set out to do anything differently in Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. This isn’t like any other major blockbuster released this year. In its structure, characters and imagination, Valerian does things differently. Its closest counterpart this year is, coincidentally, another Dane DeHaan starrer, Gore Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness. They’re both apparently carte blanche films for eccentric directing talents, which end up as lopsided, thoroughly weird beasts. Continue reading

Review: Imagine Dragons – Evolve

This article was first published by The Edge on 15th July 2017

Can it really be only four and a half years since Imagine Dragons’ debut album Night Visions took our world by storm? The band that future historians will cite as the biggest influence on the soundtracking and promotion of films and TV in the 2010s (perhaps next to only Lana Del Rey) will neither go away nor succeed in proving that they matter. Be honest with yourself – did you know there was a third Imagine Dragons album released in June? Did you know that in the last year they had released songs other than disposable made-for-movie-soundtrack singles like ‘Sucker For Pain’ and ‘Levitate’? Did you know they are the 10th most popular act worldwide on Spotify, with nearly double the monthly listens of cited “Similar Artist” OneRepublic? Continue reading

Interview: The Big Moon

This article was first published by The National Student on 7th July 2017

A few weeks after their show at Radio 1’s Big Weekend, The Big Moon are taking a break. Glastonbury is ahead (though now behind), and in the middle of the summer is a U.S. tour with Marika Hackman. So how do the four girls take a break?The Big Moon 3

“I like to do normal stuff, since being in a band isn’t really normal, it’s a bubble life. When I’m back I just like do DIY, lots of projects, being outside, gardening, building shit. So, to just do normal stuff, because I feel like I’m cheating life sometimes. If I build a shed I feel better about it.”  Continue reading

Album Review: MisterWives – Connect The Dots

This article was first published by The National Student on 5th June 2017

There must be a German word which expresses the feeling of listening to Connect The Dots, the sophomore album from New York-based, indie quintet MisterWives.Source: Stitched Sound
Unfortunately the rough translation would need to be something like “the sick feeling of disappointment when you realise you’ve either grown out of sparkly, colourful instrumentation and imagery laden lyrics, or this band was always an Imagine Dragons-esque embarrassment waiting to happen”. Place your bets on the latter.

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