Live at CMJ: Simian Mobile Disco

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photo by Doron Gild

review and interview by Miriam Lamey
photos by Doron Gild

James Ford and Jas Shaw formed Simian Mobile Disco as basically a side project from their original band Simian. The lads enjoyed experimenting with electronic music and jokingly gave this project its name, for they would run from a Simian gig off to play their dancey, effusive music to a smaller venue. Thanks to great reception, and James and Jas’ laid-back attitude to making this music, (and the split of Simian) Simian Mobile Disco took off in a massive way. In order to refrain from sounding too structured and technical, they chose to record the tracks on analog machines and thus their latest release, Attack Decay Sustain Release, maintains an honest, retro feel, through all electronic sounds and heavy, dance-worthy beats.

Simian Mobile Disco play CMJ this week, before heading off basically around the world, supporting Underworld around Europe and Japan, then The Klaxons in the UK and finally a couple of dates opening for The Chemical Brothers.

Simian Mobile Disco’s in-store appearance was, quite literally, awe-inspiring. First of all, the lads ran around the most bizarre range of equipment, set up on a round table, such that the pair could tweak buttons and dials in order to generate their music; it looked like something from a weird science fiction film. James and Jas bounced around, obviously having a blast putting the tracks together, and the fashion in which they worked was a trip to watch; they looked like a pair of excited kids. Yet the music was far from childish. Simian Mobile Disco seamlessly combined their electronic loops, beeps and beats in a mystifying fashion. They opened their set with the layered, trance-inducing “Sleep Deprivation,” layering a variety of lighter, almost twinkly beats that built in intensity and hit their peak as the bass beat kicked in. Somehow, the music even conveys emotion, which is utterly clever. “Sleep Deprivation” presented a sinister, urgent vibe, yet this didn’t prevent the audience or James and Jas from dancing about. Simian Mobile Disco imperceptibly slid into another hit, “Hustler,” and the magnificent shift in pace, beat and tone was hard-hitting and completely thrilling. They continued with the thumping anthem, “It’s the Beat” featuring vocals from The Go Team’s! Ninja. This gritty, spacier track presented a thick, in-your-face attitude, with smacking chord interludes and a pounding beat. The lads finished their set with “Scott,” and by this point, practically the entire audience was dancing and completely immersed in the music; altogether an intelligent, truly brilliant set.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 24, 2007 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Nice bonus podcast. Thanks for posting it — great stuff!

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