By Maggie McPhee
May 17 2018
Mount Kimbie played a sold-out show at The Imperial last Thursday in support of their third studio album, Love What Survives. Synth-pop duo Smerz kicked things off for them. The Norwegian pair played their glitchy R&B with enthusiasm and ambivalence at turns, adding another layer of meta-ness to the glittery existentialism of their music. Signed by indie giant XL, and lauded by NTS, Resident Advisor and Pitchfork, Smerz are ones to watch.
Mount Kimbie picked things up where Smerz left off, from a point of energy that accumulated throughout the set. Kai Campos and Dominic Maker took the stage with drummer Marc Pell (of Micachu and the Shapes) and Andrea Balency on keyboard and vocals. The three frontsmen shuffled through Korg synthesizers, vocals and keyboards so that each song boasted a fresh set-up.
Campos and Maker focus on smallness of sound—often field recordings they dissect and recycle into danceable melodies. Live, these details come to life. The duo weaved their found sounds with dazzling hi-hats, churning guitar riffs and up-tempo bass into an electric warmth that washed over the crowd. Their set represented a macrocosm of their songs: each track building atop the last until the final crescendo of “Made to Stray”.
Despite their instrumental mastery, Mount Kimbie’s live performance will sadly always be lacking the recordings’ vocal compliments. Maker’s vocals, no matter how pleasing, can never fill the shoes of King Krule or James Blake. Still, the show was a magnificent display of electronic dynamism and an intimate look into the duo’s artistic process.