13 Apr 2024

Review: The Sunset Violent by Mount Kimbie

From The Sampler, 2:30 pm on 13 April 2024
Mount Kimbie

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English duo Mount Kimbie have had an interesting artistic trajectory. They started in 2009 with a pair of EPs that traded in nimble electronica, before a more avant-garde, beat scene inflected full length in 2010.

14 years on, the band sound completely different: rhythms are stripped to their basics, and programmed on vintage drum machines. Rowdy guitars are often present, as are deadpan vocals. The vibe is much more 80s new wave than UK club.

But the pair have retained a certain artistic spirit, and the tunes on their latest, The Sunset Violent, still sound inspired.

The Mount Kimbie bio stresses the diverging paths of its two founding members. Kai Campos embraced DJ culture in the UK, while Dom Maker set up in Los Angeles, and, along with the band’s friend and collaborator James Blake, worked with a string of high profile rap names.

It’s hard to hear much hint of that on The Sunset Violent, but the pair making something so comparatively crude is often exciting. The band expanded to a four piece on this album, adding drummer Marc Pell, and keyboard player Andrea Balency-Béarn, who shares vocal duties with Maker. 

It’s worlds away from hip-hop or club music. The closest reference point is often the swirling, woozy sound of shoegaze.

The addition of Balency-Béarn’s voice to the Mount Kimbie mix balances Maker’s dour tones nicely, and while The Sunset Violent is undoubtedly gloomy, it’s bracing in how unconcerned it is with current trends.

Given Maker and Campos’ pedigree, they could have easily followed a similar path to their friend James Blake and aimed for hip-hop adjacent pop stardom. But what we got is much more interesting.