Release Date: May 11, 2018
Record label: Wichita
Simian Mobile Disco , who have been ticking along for well over a decade now, have sought out a different kind of pasture for their sixth album. Teaming up with Deep Throat Choir , the electro-duo have gone organic. Utilising the formidable energy and power of the human voice, the end result is something that works spectacularly, with the most natural of instruments melding with an electronic world rather perfectly.
Simian Mobile Disco's sixth album Murmurations comes at a tumultuous time for the duo. Their US tour has been cancelled due to Jas Shaw being diagnosed with AL amyloidosis, with money raised from their Barbican show last month being donated to an amyloidosis research fund. The show featured the Deep Throat Choir, who are key contributors to Murmurations and frequently provide the tracks with their tonal centre.
James Ford and Jas Shaw's sixth full-length album as Simian Mobile Disco was written in collaboration with Deep Throat Choir, whose presence is so center-stage that they deserve to be billed as the main performers instead of just a featuring credit. DTC have successfully taken the choir concept and made it relevant, far surpassing any novelty factor and garnering respect throughout the industry, particularly -- and peculiarly -- in dance music circles. Perhaps fittingly, then, Murmurations seems more like a much-deserved platform for the choir rather than a full-blown Simian Mobile Disco record.
For those who remember Simian Mobile Disco from their best-known albums, 2007 debut 'Attack Decay Sustain Release' and its followup, 'Temporary Pleasure', 'Murmurations' might come as something of a surprise. But fans who've kept up with their experimental production in the intervening years know that this is a duo who eschew anything close to a signature sound in favour of exploring techniques outside of their, and their listeners', comfort zones. Named after undulating formations of starlings, sixth album 'Murmurations' is about movement and space as much as their earlier albums were about minimalism and melody; from start to finish, it has the feel of sounds bouncing off the walls of a vast chamber.
Since Simian Mobile Disco's 2007 full-length debut, Attack Decay Sustain Release, James Ford and Jas Shaw's output has been impressively diverse. The duo, formerly part of the indie rock band Simian, have since released a vocalist-heavy dance pop record (Temporary Pleasure), a two-disc collection of experimental techno (Delicacies) and an instrumental album recorded in the Californian desert using just two synthesisers and two sequencers (Whorl). Their latest LP, Murmurations, is a collaboration with London's all-female Deep Throat Choir, and continues on this trajectory.
Over the last decade, Simian Mobile Disco have charted a singular career by relying almost solely on their own creative impulses. Despite rising to prominence amid the "bloghouse" fad of the mid-2000s, the duo of James Ford and Jas Shaw has remained largely unconcerned with passing trends in electronic music. Their fifth full-length, Murmurations, is a bit of a paradox: It's easily the most adventurous album they've crafted to date.
Spiritually, SMD have come a long way since 2007's floor-filling electro classic, Attack Decay Sustain Release. Murmurations — the duo's sixth studio album — showcases a more meaningful, altogether deeper sound. The record is centered around the flight of starlings, and their experimentation with interference on tracks such as "A Perfect Swarm," and "Gliders," reflecting the hum of wings in formation.