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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

November 12, 2012 at 7:40 AM

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Mount Kimbie plays new songs before moving off

kimbie 1.JPG
Photo by me

The question going in to Saturday's Mount Kimbie concert at Chop Suey was, would the London electronic duo play new music? It was already known that after the final show on their North American tour, Kai Campos and Dominic Maker would leave Seattle for London, to record their second album. Fans of underground dance music have been waiting for it for two years.

The answer was yes, and it was good — and it involved singing.

The best bit was a new, unreleased song, where Campos moaned a wistful refrain over Maker's electric guitar skeleton. The track morphed from rainy-day singer-songwriter fare into something you could dance to. In the moment, it was wonderful not to be clobbered over the head with drums and bass, but float to the place the music took you.

"This one isn't finished yet, and neither was the last one," said Campos, not apologizing, just explaining.

The whole concert was subtle and intimate and fluctuating, the beats gentle even when throbbing. Kimbie's music hasn't had singing before, and that was nice. Both men sang. They both played guitar, too. It felt democratic. A true duo. Campos and Maker played "Before I Move Off" from 2010 debut "Crooks and Lovers," a fan favorite that still sounded ahead of its time, clanging and soft. The groove could almost have accommodated a rapper. But that would have been too much. All the details mattered.

Starkly opposed to the heavy metal-ish assault of Skrillex, the current mainstream king of electronic dance music, Mount Kimbie represented a quiet corner of the genre. Their music was rooted in atmospheric found sound, and inspired by American R&B from the 1990s — which has also influenced peers James Blake and The xx. On stage they played digital samplers, a cymbal, drum machines, and a guitar hooked up to two Fender Twin amps. It was equipment for a.) a rock band or b.) deejays. Perhaps Mount Kimbie are both?

Or perhaps neither. The way they collapsed genres and hovered in their own space was something to think about, anyway, while snapshot photography and collage art flickered on a screen — paralleling the hazy, cut-up music.

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