Mount Kimbie
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Mount Kimbie

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Despite their grounding in the quotienne, there’s something slightly mysterious about Mount Kimbie. The name itself evocates some far-off, unscalable mountain peak — a cloud-shrouded oasis of esoteric seclusion. This impression was further confirmed to me by the only contact I had with the pair: a brief email exchange with Maker. Most of his answers raised more questions than they answered.

For example, I asked about the origin of the name Mount Kimbie: is it actually a mountain somewhere? “Unfortunately, it is a fictional title that has a very monotonous backstory,” says Maker. “It was tattooed on the left collarbone of a druid we met near Shepton Mallet, Somerset.” Evidently, tattooed druids are a pretty commonplace affair over there. Dominic adds: “The common pronunciation of the name is wrong,” yet infuriatingly offers no clues on how to properly say it. He leaves me with a final, mystifyingly point: “If you write Mount Kimbie on your left hand and look at it in a spherical mirror through white ‘Kanye West’ sunglasses, you will see the hidden secrets within the name.”

Hidden secrets! Is there any truth to this? Readers, I’ll let you know as soon as Kanye replies to my emails. In the meantime I’ve filed the matter in “Unsolved Mysteries”, along with the JFK assassination, quantum entanglement and how magnets work.

Back to Mount Kimbie. The two first started making music in 2007, says Maker. “We worked on a couple of tracks together in our university halls, and then continued to write together when we moved to separate parts of London.” The two had played in bands prior to this; Maker and a guitarist and Kai as a drummer. Clubbing was another late influence. “Our musical backgrounds are a real mixture, to be honest,” Maker shares.

He goes on to describe influences as varied as Wu Lyf, Zola Jesus and Congo dance-troupe Konono No. 1, as well as experimental UK producers such as Actress and Shed. Then there are non-musical influences such as Japanese comic-book wizard Katsuhiro Otomo, as well Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and FIFA. Wait, FIFA? Another one for “Unsolved Mysteries”, perhaps.
After a string of EPs and remixes on Paul Rose’s label Hotflush Recordings (home to genre-defying producers such Joy Orbison, Sepalcure, Untold and Rose’s alias, Scuba) Mount Kimbie released their debut album Crooks and Lovers in mid-2010. Much of the album is composed of field recordsings, and speaks of the everyday world of sound. “These sounds come from everyday life and from selective sampling,” tells Maker.
It’s evident from the album cover itself: a tracksuit-clad, ample-bottomed black woman walking past a construction site. “The cover shows a local woman walking down the high street in Peckham, South London — where I live,” answers Maker. “We wanted the artwork to have a personal feel to it, a sense of where the majority of album was written.”

Their peers on Hotflush, as well artists on as other forward-thinking UK labels such as Hyperdub and Tectonic, are part of a wide spectrum of producers and djs who critics are finding increasingly hard to pigeonhole to genres. Yet Mount Kimbie themselves are clearly unfazed by the endless chin-scratching and genres debates over post-this and prog-that. When I ask Maker how he would describe the duo’s music to the average man on the street, he replies with refreshing simplicity, “I would say that it was electronic music that is quite ambient and sounds quite poppy.”

Quite poppy? While it’s doubtful that many fans would think of them this way, it’s unquestionable that there’s something very playful in the duo’s music. Maybe it’s their blissed-out, juddering beats — like the happy, stumble-drunk momentum of Before I Move Off, or their own take on post-Burial dubstep’s done-to-death pitch shifted vocal loops, which somehow retains its own fresh, sweet flavour. The meandering, chopped-up vocals on Maybes and Mayor are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle rearranged in new, deliciously nonsensical ways, yet somehow concealing some rich sense of meaning.

Even at their most experimental, Mount Kimbie’s sound is one propelled by gentle whimsy and na├»ve artistic curiosity. It’s clear from the first listen that this isn’t music made for the club. Yet neither is it armchair techno to drift off to; Mount Kimbie occupy the space between. It’s reflected in their live show, something the duo are continually developing and refining. Maker describes their first show, held in a church in Oslo. “They filled the whole church with smoke and had yellow light coming through stained glass windows onto the stage. It looked epic.”

A fitting beginning indeed; the duo now command a small but devoted following of believers around the world. Sadly, for those praying for another album, there’s no plans for a release in the immediate future. “We’re probably going to release an EP this year, and another album next summer. We’ve been on the road for ages and have only just started to sit down and write again.” With his characteristic sense of understatement, Maker modestly adds: “It’s sounding good so far.”

BY MORGAN RICHARDS