- EPs. There are lots and lots of them—maybe you've heard a few? And maybe, like me, you're resigned to the fact that most are unexceptional. And that a few (maybe more) are just awful. But occasionally there are others, like this one.
In four tracks, Mount Kimbie lay out a blueprint for a new way of doing "step" music (half-, two-, dub-), one that's heavily indebted to—but hardly exhausted by—its audible referents, which also include electronica, indie rock and… well, almost everything else in patterns of four that you might expect to have crossed the ears of two young Brits.
The EP's title track begins with a stretched electric guitar sample: it sounds very "quantised" (like so many of those EPs where you can "see" how they "painted" it on the track view in their software sequencer). Oh no, you think, another predictable EP. But then, just you're anticipating the "ho hum" to follow (and the "move to trash" immediately following that) vocals at a chipmunk pitch are wedded to a clunk/click rhythm that makes for a composition equal parts pop hooks, rhythmic impact and textural detail. The duo braid each element into the other with ease, coming up with a mad combo equal parts Burial, Vulva String Quartett, and Last Exit-era Junior Boys. And, boy, does it work. Like so many stylish successes, it transforms an implausible combination into an effortless ensemble. And that's just the first track.
"Taps" opens with a downbeat skitterfunk rhythm rich in atmosphere which leads into a melodic theme that brings the whole composition much closer to label head Scuba's recent work, echoing his love of fallaway rhythms and reachback melodies. There's a nice interplay between the rhythms—played down alleys of reverb—and a big filter sweep which shhhs for silence, and gets it by the end of the bar.
Next up is "Vertical," which begins with a turbulent synth wash that simulates pressured air over polished, scratched, warm metal. This is then set amongst another pitched-up vocal sample and a simple organ theme, underwritten by a lower, fatter kick. The closer, "William," meanwhile, goes in for a gauzed out, lo-fi piano motif which sounds like pieces of Finnish experimentalists Paavorhaju until a soft, shuffling kick comes in, leading a bevy of foundsounds to a vocal (recorded in the background), making it more like DJ Koze interpreting Tom Waits singing to himself in the shower. Or something. As you can see, there's plenty of space for flights of imaginative fancy here. That the duo have managed something this accomplished for their debut indicates the probable arrival of a major talent. Eyes about, ears open: Mount Kimbie are here.