In the beginning Mount Kimbie set out to make pure dubstep and have been lumbered with the tag ever since. The truth is dubstep is merely a nuance of their sound; the band have more in common with Four Tet than Burial, though both are undeniable influences. This London-based duo have been on the scene for a couple of years now, after a pair of EPs and numerous quality remixes their debut LP, Crook and Lovers, came to light in early summer and it made a startling statement – inventive, varied and, as their previous work indicated, at the high-end of production skills.
The gathering at Academy 2 is akin to an electro-geek convention, as with most things nerdy it’s a male-dominated gang – not nearly as many expected mind. Perhaps the unpopular venue deterred a few but surely Mount Kimbie should be selling out places at this point?
The two-inch stage makes for an intimate setting, perfect for folk music or inclusive punk gigs but intimacy with electronic music is all about headspace.
Under close, and slightly awkward, observation the first few tunes of the set play out like a technical demonstration. This isn’t such a bad thing, in fact it’s actually quite inspiring. With the tools of their trade (loop pedals, Korg Kaoss pad, samplers, midi keyboard) laid out before them, Dom and Kai run through some early EP tracks; mixing and looping vocal samples, intricate circular rhythms and washes of guitar with apparent expertise (reportedly a lot more assured than a previous show in Twisted Pepper a while back). The mix of live instruments, guitar and a basic drum kit, along with the electronic gear convey musical intelligence – the lads aren’t just studio boffins, they are a potentially exhilarating live act too. However, there is a lack of atmosphere. This is made up for with some sharp genre-hopping sounds (yes, sharp sounds in Academy 2) and midway through the set the ice is broken by ‘Before I Move Off’; silky guitar riffs, woozy soundscapes, electro bleeps and some distinctly British bass-heavy beats turn chin-scratching and head-nodding into wooping and shape-throwing.
As with the LP, tempos change; clambering slow jams (‘Maybe’, ‘Would Know’) are followed by stonking dub-step beats (‘Blind Night Errand’). A beefed up version of ‘Field’ seals the deal with swollen oozy electronics, sunburst guitars and heavy tech rhythms – delicious.
Physical closeness isn’t the ideal situation for an act like this, a barrier or distance is needed to allow both band and audience to lose themselves in their own space. Space is where Mount Kimbie thrive, a space full of detached vocals, ambient fluid melodies dotted with electronic and organic noises, bassy rumblings and arresting percussion.
Photos by Kieran Frost.