Every good party comes to an end but there’s always that period where the most hardened hedonists can’t quite let it go. The post-party, pre-pity purgatory. The night’s come and gone, a tornado full of half remembered vignettes, flashing lights, silhouetted friends and drawn curtains. Natural light enters the equation again, its blades chase stockinged feet under arses on crumpled couches.
This narrow, bleary-eyed shaft of daylight is the perfect place for Simian Mobile Disco’s latest record Welcome to Sideways to exist. A record that wraps the listener in the assuring arms of cyclical repetition, drawing them in. Each track a vast, bleak electronic landscape. Cold, clinical, metallic. Programmed hypnosis. Refuge for ragged ravers who dive in head first with no pressing appetite to come up for oxygen, submerged in subterranean subculture.
Listening to this record in any other situation is like walking around on land with an open and unfurled parachute on your back. It’s just not going to be the same.
Welcome to Sideways is the fifth full album from Simian Mobile Disco, an off shoot of the four-piece just named plain old Simian. Duo James Ford and Jas Shaw have been at it since 2007’s Attack Decay Sustain Release, providing remixes for the likes of Muse and Klaxons along the way.
To single out any of the tracks on Welcome to Sideways is to miss the whole point of the record itself. A time bandit, monotonously pulsing along like a voracious, unstoppable Pac-Man gobbling up minutes, even hours from the lives of unwitting listeners. Track titles like ‘Face to Face with Spoon’, ‘Space is Filled with Ringing’ and ‘Staring at All This Handle’ suggest that this is exactly what Ford and Shaw were going for. Mechanical, metronomic, analogue rabbit holes down which listeners can disappear in community. Zoned out and locked in.
Some may find the repetition too much, too laboured but therein lies the comfort of this record. Once you slide down into the grooves of Welcome to Sideways you’re safe. Gliding, bopping along. No unexpected peaks, no unwanted troughs. A pathway laid out in plain sight to guide you through in safe passage from start to finish like a computer game character emboldened by the protective shield of this magic potion.