Album Review: Mount Kimbie ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’
When Archy Marshall, aka King Krule, opens “You Took Your Time” with “Now did you see me? / I killed a man,” it’s quickly clear that Mount Kimbie has not feared to stray from their previously established sound. Mount Kimbie is Dominic Maker and Kai Campos and the two have come a long way since their first full-length from 2010, “Crooks & Lovers.” Last Monday they released “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth” on Warp Records—their first LP on the major label which hosts the likes of Aphex Twin, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke, and, inexplicably, Grizzly Bear. Their previous label, Hotflush, boasts Scuba, Sepalcure, George FitzGerald, but no one else you’ve likely heard of.
But any fears that the duo’s move to a major label for CSFLY would signal a shift to a less experimental sound are quickly quieted. In fact, Mount Kimbie are anything but content to cash in on previous successes. In an interview with a minor music blog, Campos noted that “Most of the music that sounds like it’s been influenced by ["Crooks & Lovers"] that has come out since sounds fairly dull, and it’s not something we want to carry on doing. We want to get away from it.” And get away they do. Mind you, their claim to influence is not unwarranted—Wikipedia claims that they are “arguably responsible for the term ‘post-dubstep,’” which, while nearly meaningless as a musical descriptor, has come to describe big names from friend-of-the-band James Blake to honestly-kinda-boring Purity Ring, but Maker and Campos are just the kind of guys to start a trend and then switch it up a bit.
The most obvious departure that “Cold Spring” makes from “Crooks & Lovers” is the inclusion of vocals. Where C&L featured vocal samples cut up to create asemic melodies and riffs, CSFLY finds Campos providing damn good vocals from a musician who’s never bothered to sing on his tracks before, as well as two tracks featuring the aforementioned genre-defying, younger-than-me crooner King Krule whose groaning melodies haunt his songs.
But the stylistic changes don’t end with the vocals—there’s still a number of instrumental tracks here and you wouldn’t mistake them for earlier work. “Break Well” harnesses airy synths which shift into a near-pop in the last minute for a sum that sounds like it could be a Bibio track. “So Many Times, So Many Ways” sounds almost like a jazz composition and relies primarily on acoustic instruments as the duo continues to expand their sonic palette. Lead single “Made to Stray” isn’t afraid to let its beat (with a woodpecker-esque drum track) sink in before bringing in its catchy looped chorus. And closer, “Fall Out,” chugs along as a piano loop in the background, evocative of a much calmer Dan Deacon, gives the song a—for lack of a better word—human touch.
And perhaps the word “song” is something which, in an effort to describe the music, marks a subtle departure in itself. Some of the group’s earlier tracks, especially short cuts like “Adriatic” off of “Crooks & Lovers,” felt at times like experiments as Maker and Campos found a way to create the new sounds in their heads but without always knowing exactly what to do with those sounds. This is not to say that previous efforts come across as amateurish (their material is and will remain some of my favorite electronic work out there) but rather that with “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth,” Mount Kimbie seems to have finally fully grasped in their musical fist the material they were looking for and crafted it beautifully into a cohesive and powerful new composition.
Now we just wait and see what descriptor gets applied (post-post-dubstep?) and let the imitators begin.