Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns

Best known for their irresistible collaboration with Justice ‘We Are Your Friends’, Simian Mobie Disco are producers James Ford and Jas Shaw, who rose from the ashes of their more rock orientated group Simian to enjoy commercial success as remixers for acts ranging from Bjork to Muse. Debut album ‘Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release’ was as hyperactive as its title suggests, a fruit looped bleep fest that latched onto Klaxons nu-rave revival, whilst the follow-up ‘Temporary Pleasure’ hurled all manner of indie royalty at its neon painted wall with a mixed bag of results.

Their third record ‘Unpatterns’ has been billed by the duo as a more mature direction, taking its cues from the soulful sound of analogue techno. With fewer vocal hooks it is a record more concerned with mood than tunes and as a statement of intent there is no need to look beyond the heavy bass that kicks in a minute into opener ‘I Waited For You’. This is eerie music to listen to under glowing street lights not wave a glowstick too.

At the centre of the record are two tracks which really set out the duo’s stand for this album. The complex waves of synth on ‘Cerulean’ could easily soundtrack Ryan Gosling’s escalating nightmare in ‘Drive’ whilst ‘Seraphim’ is impeccably produced techno with a gigantic, soulful vocal hook.

Elsewhere the duo reunite with Warp-soul singer Jamie Liddell for ‘Put Your Hands Together’ a sweeping artificial beast built on a synthetic fusion of repetitive crashes and looped beats. ‘Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’ is a million miles from anywhere they have traversed before, relying on an army of martian descending notes and analogue hiss. It’s patchwork of beeps and glitches is totally undanceable but strangely fascinating like a lost Flying Lotus instrumental.

While the other tunes on ‘Unpatterns’ may rather lack that killer instinct, the production is frequently exceptional, something that is sure to bring Shaw and Ford plaudits in the future. Bass lines and cymbal crashes are crystal clear and polished whilst retaining their ability to unnerve and unsettle. Three years on from ‘Temporary Pleasure’ ‘Unpatterns’ clearly wishes to engage a more hardcore audience beyond the teenage rave paint of their debut and sophomore albums but for a dance record it leaves this listener rather unmoved.


Max Sefton

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