Release Date: Apr 16, 2013
Record label: Delicacies
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Club/Dance
At the end of last summer Deadmau5 wrote a now infamous post on his Tumblr titled "we all hit play". His gleeful reveal was that the live performance of EDM was not about talent; he and his contemporaries in the EDM world were simply “button pushers”. So what if his off-the-peg, risk-free “live” shows were a pantomime? The real magic, as he saw it, happened in the studio and that’s what drew his fans to the show.
Recorded during a performance in Philadelphia, Simian Mobile Disco's Live is a no-edits, no-overdubs document of the band's live show in 2012, which splits the difference sound-wise between their 2012 studio album Unpatterns (insular, future-retro music with obvious Krautrock and Kraftwerk influences) and their 2010 collection of digi-singles Delicacies (driving, crafted techno, most of it minimal). The set is done in one go where every song segues into the next, but this isn't a DJ set that just gains speed; it's a concert-minded sequence that ebbs and flows, sometimes joining outros and intros in a noodling, spinning style that would be endorsed by the Grateful Dead. Audience noise is mixed in ever so slightly, only becoming obvious when the beat drops, and the room ambience is captured perfectly with some echo and reflection giving away the fact that this one wasn't cut in the studio.
In spite of its title, Simian Mobile Disco’s Live doesn’t play so much as a showcase of their live performance as it does an attempt to escape certain pigeonholes, and to provide a new statement of intent by way of an overview of their existing body of work. Recorded from the mixing desk of a show in Philadelphia without edits, the production is nonetheless remarkably sharp, dynamic and immersive, putting the clean analogue electronics front and centre, and playing down the sense of occasion. To be sure, it’s a far reaching set, melding 15 tracks from the nooks and crannies of their back catalogue into an hour-plus mix.
On last year's criminally underappreciated Unpatterns LP, Simian Mobile Disco finally broke the 16-bit code, delivering a long-form, skeletal, techno think piece that felt just as beefy as it did heady. Bringing this M.O. on the road, the duo's live show brought together both dance floor enthusiasts and headphone contemplators, using tracks from all four of their vastly diverse albums as elements in a dynamic-fuelled DJ set.
As the best teachers earn your respect, they also teach with more than facts. Simian Mobile Disco are such teachers. Ever since formation in 2005, the duo has occupied a corner of electronic music saved for refined artists, perfectionists even, submerged in and committed to the craft of their music, free from the usual fads and phases that plague club music, and admirable in consistency and in output and attitude.