Friday, May 4, 2012

Mount Kimbie @ the HiFi Bar, 3/5/12

“These aren’t quite songs yet – indulge us.”

There’s a surprising echo of Spinal Tap (“We hope you enjoy our new direction”) as Dom Maker introduces an extended bracket of works-in-progress at the HiFi Bar. Mount Kimbie have talked openly of moving beyond the treated vocals and lo-fi synths of  “post-dubstep”. Tonight it seems that, not unlike Tap, they are digging ever deeper into art-rock for inspiration. It occasionally verges on self-indulgence, but then writing “not quite songs” is precisely what Mount Kimbie are known for: at their best they hover in their very own sweet spot between dance music, ambient and indie.  And if live jams of their new material don’t always find that spot, it’s still a pleasure to witness a band so fearlessly pushing their sound further out and further in.

What’s more, the show starts and ends superbly. Opener Carbonated emerges from a foggy soundscape with a house beat bashed out on drum pads. It’s a rhythm that underpins much of the show and, with vocals chopped up or even performed live, the vibe is more post-punk than dubstep. In fact, bass weight is about the only thing Mount Kimbie draw from that most ubiquitous of contemporary genres. A glorious rendition of Field sees the duo cranking up industrial drums and electric guitar, and when the drop comes it’s a hip-hop beat that sends the place bananas. The bubbling melody of Before I Move Off gets the night’s biggest cheer, and haunting piano chords provide a perfect, unexpected counterpoint. “Australians, I love how much you love that song” says Kai Campos. “Paid my rent for a couple of months.”

In fact, the band seem genuinely surprised at the ferocity of support they have garnered. A pumping encore throws more than a splash of acid house in the mix, briefly threatening a rave re-enactment of the HiFi’s Teriyarki Thursdays in the late 90s. Then, all too abruptly, it’s over. There’s a restless potential about Mount Kimbie, a feeling that, with time, they will learn to fully employ the amazing powers at their disposal. They are already an excellent band. They could become one of the very, very best.

Tonight’s supports could be the main act’s kid brothers. Sicilia’s ambient laptop techno sets a rather neutral tone, which Oscar + Lewis then vandalise with blunted beats, bright synths, live R&B vocals – and a guest rapper/ dancer named Grant who steals the show and then hands out miniature zines by the bar. Post-dubstep? Post-everything.

(written for Inpress for print and online publication)

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