thu 18/07/2019

CD: Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns

CD: Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns

Techno escapes retroism and mere functionality

Simian Mobile Disco's 'Unpatterns': inviting and welcomingSimian Mobile Disco

This is a techno album. A techno album on a British label best known for the indie-est of indie rock, from a duo whose last album featured rock vocalists Beth Ditto and Alex Turner among others, but a techno album nonetheless. It's all about pulse and texture, immersion and physicality, the power of the hypnotic beat, and it is absolutely bloody lovely.

And why shouldn't it be? There's a school of thought that to make music in genres most popular in the early 1990s is “retro”, and that this is by definition a bad thing – but this is clearly idiocy. This is no more beholden to the past than, say, the Stones or Led Zeppelin were “1930s revivalists” because they chucked the odd Robert Johnson riff into their songs.

These tracks are obviously done in the full knowledge of the most recent post-dubstep developments in club music, as they have certain modernist tics to their manipulation of vocal sounds and deep bass. There is older electronic sound here too, looking back to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and avant garde composers of the 1950s and 60s. But ultimately they sidestep fashion and fad, and base themselves on the fact that a steady beat and a few carefully chosen, steadily morphing synthetic tones can create magic for anyone who cares to get involved.

These may be sounds that stimulate delirium on the dancefloor, but their sensuous warmth is engaging in any context. Each track starts subtly, opens out into lavish blossomings of sound, takes a couple of left turns, then ends again – what else do you want music to do? All the stronger for its lack of celebrity guests and confidence in its own sounds, this is very possibly SMD's best album yet.

A steady beat and a few carefully chosen sounds can create magic for anyone who cares to get involved

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters