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Dance producers get lonely. It’s an occupational hazard, hence why they love a sensationalist and well-heeled vocal collaboration. James Ford and Jas Shaw, aka Simian Mobile Disco, have become pretty adept at this bit of business over the years. And it clearly works wonders for fame. Their last LP, Temporary Pleasure, played host to the trippy Gruff Rhys, the falsetto Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, the dirty Beth Ditto and even a little bit of Yeasayer’s Chris Keating. Collectively, they helped wax the Simian surfboard’s wake all the way to critical acclaim.
But sometimes this approach can be tiresome, sometimes gratingly obvious, and at other junctures just car -crash bad (listen to The Pharcyde’s Fatlip guest on The Chemical Brothers' Salmon Dance for the nadir of square peg and round hole hell). It’s therefore a great relief that SMD have elected to make their third LP a heads-down, thumbs-up dance journey. Maybe the pair has realised the fast route to writing a classic is shaving off the contemporary fluff?
Or perhaps this notion is overly simplistic since Unpatterns is far from a classic. Yet it’s also far from poor, boring, static or imitative. At certain points it revels in understated excellence. Put Your Hands Together, arguably the LP’s crux, will fill floors from Berlin to Ibiza and back via Brooklyn with its filtered house ammo.
Opener I Waited for You sets the tone with slick, building bleeps before Cerulean comes tearing out of the awkward hard house blocks with its angular synths and loping, eternal beat. At points – notably Interference and A Species Out of Control – their productions recall the finest heavy grooving of Laurent Garnier: the former track rubs similar shoulders to the Frenchman’s epic club smash The Sound of the Big Babou.
Unpatterns may ultimately face the damned-if-you-do and damned if you don’t polarity when balancing a desire for fresh fans with these dissident songs. SMD lovers will have to content themselves with a deep, well-crafted dance manifesto by two talented producers who’ve had their DJ boxes circulate enough airport carousels to comfortably nail an underground and enduring statement.
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Top Customer Reviews
SMD's ability to compile near-perfect sets have meant that tracks like 'Put Your Hands Together' have purpose and intent on this album, instead of, as most might rush to assume, is simply a floor filler. 'Interference' has a simple synth riff and plodding feel from the start - all familiar ingredients, yet 6 and a half minutes later you are left feeling like you've just been taken on a tour of the universe. The closing wall of sound on 'Pareidolia' has no right to be as huge and deep, and feels like an assault from a mad, angry orchestra.
Drum patterns are dense and complex, yet plenty of space and minimalism. Sub bass notes are distinctive in the mix, and the synths lush, with and edgy feel that gives you a warmth from a different angle than the usual electronica fare. The overall tempo is relaxed but driving, creating an undercurrent to the album that carries you through from start to finish nicely.
I might be biased here. Only last month I saw them live at the Village Underground Mixmag launch party in London, and I suspect sonic trickery and other methods have burnt these tracks into my neurons. But the great thing is, either way, this is an album you feel pleased to own, and when you choose to play it, you'll give it respect, time and attention. If anything from that perspective, it feels a bit short, but in an age where I all to often skip around searching for who-knows-what, this is the greatest compliment of all. Enjoy.
The 1st track is nice and funky. It's fun but remains intense enough to stay interesting to the listener.
Track 3 - "Seraphim" - is also good, building on the sounds and development of the first 2 tracks.
Track 4 takes the album to another level. A little more techy and cultured. This is a really good track and one that I find develops more and more each time I listen to it.
"Interference" is good without being outstanding. I wouldn't call it filler but it's not quite as strong as the others before it.
Track 6 is the standout on the album. A belter of a track. A driving rhythm, a pulsating beat and a hypnotic lyric, repeated and repeated. This is worth buying the album for on it's own!
Finally, just a comment about the last track. A slightly lighter but still equally intense track to close the album out. I really like this and I generally find my favourite albums are those that end with a seriously quality track. "Pareidolia" is definitely not one to be missed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The album Unpatterns has 17 tracks, and pushes 320KBPS quality to the very limit. Each beat is polished and individual, clamoring for its rightful attention. Read morePublished on 29 May 2014 by Zakaria
Listened to this about a dozen times now and feel it has about 4 very good tracks , but the rest kind of just slots in nicely without going anywhere, much softer beat wise than... Read morePublished on 16 July 2012 by Stalag17