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Musical Advent Calendar #19 Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives

Originally coming to prominence and critical acclaim in 2009 through their effortless yet, expertly crafted departure from dubstep, Dominic Maker and Kai Campos have surpassed their post-dubstep label into a genre interestingly challenging to define. Mount Kimbie’s third studio album Love What Survives was released in September by Warp Records, arriving alongside two new members of the group’s live performance, drummer Marc Pell and Andrea Balency on keys and backing vocals. By abandoning the tried and proven back to back style of electronica and progressing into a thoroughly well rehearsed four piece, Mount Kimbie’s seemingly predictable previous live sound has transformed into a layered, ambient, and melodic dance vibe. This then adds the option to increase intensity and “crank” up when performing the darker, post-punk tracks that fill the ambient atmospheric spaces created on the album.

For me, this is not just album of the year but it also contains my personal track of the year. Blue Train Lines, featuring the raspy punk tones of London culture wonderboy King Krule, helps kick start the earlier section of the album with a cacophony of wailing synth, droning bass and steady drums. This song utterly pounces forward from Four Years and One Day, the first track on the album, which exists as a far more methodical, almost cinematic demonstration of synth layering and percussion. Other instrumental tracks that stand out to me personally must be lead by the incredible Audition, track three on the album. This sharp melodic twist of Peter Hook-esque Joy Division bass lines with added synth tones mirroring and expanding on the intro motif allow this track to soldier on toward the end of the album, with the repetition giving more the feeling of a race rather than an air of predictability.

Audition moves straight into a new groove, Marilyn, featuring the uniquely masculine tones of Mica Levi of Micachu and The Shapes. This track begins with such a relaxed vibe that when the familiar snare kick drum beat that Mount Kimbie are so often identified by, it almost catches you off guard. Cue the bass, a riff that as opposed to just propping up the melody, it actively adds to it with a care free twang that is later supported by fuzzy bass synths and horn sounds. The lyrical motif of “looking up” is consistently driven home, as once again, Mount Kimbie’s steady layering of multifaceted instrumentation is completed by the end of the track.

It would be foolish to not at least touch on James Blake’s appearance on the album, bringing his trademark downtempo soul on two tracks, How We Got By and We Go Home Together. Both of these feature effortlessly sombre and soothing tones from our man James, which is to be entirely expected.

All in all this album is incredibly well crafted, with this new creative space firmly cementing Mount Kimbie into the effortlessly cultural London scene, and with sell out tours in UK and Europe, I hope this band will remain active artists and producers, thrusting a breath of fresh air and professional craft onto what often seems an over saturated and boring indie scene.

Sam Seymour


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