Going to see Mount Kimbie the day they release a brand spanking new track – ‘Bave Chords‘, free download, Oh YES – is the sort of perfection that an adoring fan can only dream of. My luck lasted pretty much all evening, which explains the smug style of writing that you are about to encounter. Queuing at Heaven is unlike any other experience I’ve had before as adverts for ‘Gay Porn Idol’ surround the box office, this really is a special venue, but not only because of its sexually explicit advertisements, it’s a club inside the Arches near Embankment – which provide a perfect acoustic setting – and a balcony that lets you look down on the huge crowd below.
First to grace the stage is Sampha, an electro soloist signed to XL Recordings’ imprint Young Turks. Being a huge fan of practically all XL’s artists I had high expectations for the electronic soulster and I was not disappointed. Although his use of synthesisers and drum pads does not necessarily separate him from the crowd, it’s his decidedly emotional voice, which wavers inoffensively between being in tune and slightly out of it which sets him apart from the rapidly rising group of electronic songwriters. Luckily for Sampha and his audience, his use of autotune – or something like it – is intriguing rather than annoying and with lyrics such as ‘no one could love you’ it’s certain that he’s got stuff to sing about. The exquisite use of lighting in Heaven means that each act is bathed in a pool of coloured light, adding a visual layer of satisfaction to the whole affair.
The next act take the term audiovisual delight to another level as their whole set is enhanced by beautiful film footage playing in the background. Creep, the female witch house duo from New York fulfil and exceed the electronic double team stereotype as their equipment comprises two laptops (Macs of course), a guitar that is only used once, and surprisingly a cello complete with cello player. Wearing suitably creepy dark and baggy clothes, Creep are about atmosphere just as much as they are about music. With only a tiny lamp emitting light onto their stage you are tempted to close your eyes and let the heart trembling bass do all the talking. Their languid beats and drippy bass lines evoke a totally electronic world – sounding somewhat like an overhead approach of airplanes – but manage to convey perfectly human emotions. Still there’s a part of me that feels that full appreciation of their dark R&B/shoegaze sound necessitates some sort of hallucinogenic intervention – and by the looks of most of the people in the crowd I think I’m right. They’ve got a fantastic single out now called Days and it features vocals from Romy Madley Croft – aka Romy xx – who was incidentally in the audience.
Whilst waiting for Mount Kimbie to set up I also spotted Orlando from Maccabees – remember them? I won’t even pretend this is at all relevant to the gig, and although I could make some far fetched comment about the current drum pad trend in music and the possibility of an electronic album from Maccabees I’d rather admit my mild obsession with the lead singer. Confession over let’s move on to the humble headliners, Mount Kimbie.
As the ‘post dubstep’ duo – I’m allowed one annoying term per post – make their way on to the stage all the too cool for school fans shed their hipster skin and make their way to the very front of the room and Mount Kimbie are worth it. Suddenly it feels more like a club night than a random gig and the fact that we’ll all be tucked up in bed before 11 pm bares no relevance to our enjoyment. Drum pads at the ready Kimbie fill the room with itchy beats and engulfing bass lines, the whole audience is transfixed waiting to hear the first words from the manchester duo; ‘It means so much to see so many heads’ says one of them, it’s nice to know they appreciate their fans. Just like their support act the special thing about MK is the fact that they appreciate sound, be it electronic or acoustic. Their use of a real snare drum and cymbal brings them into an undeniably refreshing realm of multiplicious musicians.
Their tracks flow from shogeaze to D’angelo-esque hip hop without so much as a warning, and everyone loves it. ‘Before I Move Off‘ receives rapturous applaud from the crowd and it seems that Mount Kimbie can’t put a foot wrong, chopping up several different vocal samples to form the perfect puzzle. Ever eager to bend their own form of music, Mount’s use of guitar reveals the subtle melancholy of their music and it is their silent breaks and slow climaxes which prove to be the highlight of their sound. This memorable gig is ended with the performance of the first song they ever wrote, Maybes which is a staggered journey into an underrated but equally bewildering soundscape. If Mount Kimbie take as to reach their zenith as they do in their songs, we’ll be hearing from them for a long time to come, and thank god for that!
Whilst you wait for their next album, as they confessed that ‘we have nothing more to play, we’ve been touring a 35 minute record for one year and a half…’, why not listen to a soundtrack of similarly laid back tunes.