Mayor - Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers (2010, Hotflush)
Dubstep isn’t really a very good description of music anymore. The genre has become so wide and varied, it’s really hard to know what to expect when listening to a new ‘dubstep’ album, apart from it’s going to be, for the most part, somewhere in between 134 to 148 BPM. You could be getting club-happy bass-heavy dub grime, a la Caspa and Rusko, the kind of dubstep Ministry of Sound has recently jumped on the bandwagon with. You could be getting a much darker and introverted techno-tinged dubstep, more akin to how the genre began, featured by artists such as Burial and 2562. Or you could get something like Mount Kimbie’s debut.
Again, I think the main reason Crooks & Lovers is primarly classified as dubstep is the tempo. Mount Kimbie throw aspects from techno, downtempo/chillout, ambient, hip-hop and experimental music together to create the intriguing package that is Crooks & Lovers. It’s still quite obviously a dubstep album, but It takes a while to get there at times, such as in Would Know, which is almost straight-out downtempo, except for some warped synth fills and a muted 140bpm beat. And that isn’t a bad thing at all where the album is concerned. But it blurs the boundaries between genres so much, you wonder where the line proclaiming that something is dubstep can be drawn.
Onto the the album itself though, Crooks & Lovers is the debut LP from Mount Kimbie, the british duo of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos. The pair have been making a name for themselves over the last couple of years with remixes for the likes of Foals and The xx, steadily developing their distinctive “micro-garage” sound that comes to a head with their debut LP. The wide range of influences combine to create a sound that is varied and interesting, and though most of the tracks barely hit the four-minute mark, both the indiviual tracks and the album nearly always sound cohesive.
As mentioned before, aspects from all over the dubstep world are apparent too. The introduction, Tunnelvision, would be Burial-esque if not for the laid-back acoustic guitar loop. Techno-tinged synth runs reminiscent of 2562 pop up as fills all over the place. Blind Night Errand features a characteristic “mid-range wobble”, sounding almost like something Rusko would be happy to play. But by using such a wide range of influences, Mount Kimbie definitely don’t sound like anyone else.
Crooks & Lovers is a very decent album all the way through, but there are a few stand-out tracks that demonstrate just what the duo are capable of. Beginning with a beat that sounds like a sampled ping-pong game, and adding in some 8-bit melodies and vocal loops for good measure, Mayor builds to a chilled, but still driven track that couldn’t be by anyone but Mount Kimbie. Following an almost minimal techno build up reminiscent of the musician of the same name, Field suddenly but comfortably drops into a beach-house guitar groove. And Would Know is a really great example of how they can fit aspects of many different genres into a track that still sounds cohesive.
It’s not the kind of dubstep you’ll hear if you listen to Nova, or buy a Ministry of Sound compilation. In a way, it’s not really dubstep. But leaving classifications aside, Mount Kimbie have created a really decent, interesting and individual debut album, one that is bound to keep growing on you the more you listen to it. And the cover art is strangely hypnotic…