Possibly the only dance act that Deadmau5 hasn’t been shooting his mouth off about lately, British electronic duo Simian Mobile Disco certainly don’t fit in with his whole ‘just press play’ grievances. Indeed, far from relying on the ready-made mixes favoured by many of their peers, their first live album was recorded using an array of synths, 909s and effects pedals in one continuous long take during a Philadelphia set last December.
Of course, after recently slating the lowest common denominator stranglehold of Guetta and Skrillex themselves, James Ford and Jas Shaw couldn’t really have done it any other way. But Live proves that there are few who adapt the whole techno experience to the stage any better.
Unsurprisingly focusing on their 2012 studio effort, Unpatterns, the record’s first five tracks are weaved together so seamlessly that they feel more like one incredibly intricate electronic suite. But amidst the 808 snares, pinging effects and rattling synths that constantly weave in and out the 70-minute long set, Simian Mobile Disco also pluck a few more tangible affairs from their impressive back catalogue.
Taken from their 2007 debut Attack Sustain Decay Release, the squelchy electronica of “It’s The Beat” is transformed into an authentic slice of classic Chicago house, complete with Run-D.M.C.-style vocals. Elsewhere, the gutsy soulful tones of Beth Ditto provide a touch of class as they boom out over a bass-driven reworking of the duo’s career best single, “Cruel Intentions.”
Inevitably, there are a few occasions when Live falls victim to the usual problem that occurs on live dance albums. The disorientating techno of “Interference” and the ominous closer “Sleep Deprivation” would have no doubt sounded great in a warehouse at 2am on a Saturday night, but less so in a bedroom or car stereo on a wet Wednesday morning.
But to their credit, Simian Mobile Disco keep things interesting enough to ensure that Live largely sounds as good in the cold light of day as it does in the dead of the night.