LOVE WHAT SURVIVES is the third studio album from MOUNT KIMBIE; a melodic yet robust electronic record and a distillation of their career to date, mixing multiple singing voices and musical personalities, flirting with freeform experimentation, pop tropes and an expansive sonic palette.
As the title might suggest, the album is the product of three years of intense creative development, continually honed by the duo writing and rewriting their ideas to form something wholly idiosyncratic and personal.
It brings together the voices of their close friends and collaborators JAMES BLAKE, KING KRULE and MICACHU – who together represent a corner of the UK’s finest young artistic talent – within the immersive, unique atmosphere of a MOUNT KIMBIE album. It’s the most confident statement of intent from the boundary-pushing duo to date, and an embodiment of their musical progression.
KAI CAMPOS – who along with DOMINIC MAKER is MOUNT KIMBIE – says the making of the album was about taking away everything that had been successful for them before. LOVE WHAT SURVIVES was made mostly on just two vintage synths, a Korg MS-20 and a Korg Delta. Both instruments have what Kai describes as, “a punk and janky, Robert Wyatt quality”. With an industrial character and a direct playing style, these synths pushed MOUNT KIMBIE toward their bold new sound.
The record’s more expansive aura is also indebted to the fact it was made between London and Los Angeles. After Maker moved to the West Coast in 2016 the duo would travel back and forth to work together, cultivating ideas in intensive sessions. For Maker, putting down roots in a foreign city with its cultural differences and geographical vastness was initially alienating, but it gave fresh perspective and inspiration, disrupting the creative stagnation he was starting to feel from living in the UK.
As a result of this free-form composition process, LOVE WHAT SURVIVES is a looser, more ambitious record than MOUNT KIMBIE have ever made before. Elastic melodies and rough-edged instrumentation give it a warm energy: the pre-Midi groove of DELTA locking with simple, direct chord progressions; POISON showing a more delicate, introspective side; and AUDITION suggesting a Krautrock influence with, as the duo say, “Drum machines that sound like they were played by humans; and acoustic instruments that sound like they were played by machines”.
As well as experimenting with new instrumentation, the band embraced collaborations to take their sound to new levels. MARILYN, a soft-focus, bubbling duet with MICACHU, builds to a sun-flecked brassy climax; the motorik rhythm section of BLUE TRAIN LINES gives KING KRULE a fast lane on which to deliver his jagged vocal bursts; YOU LOOK CERTAIN [I’M NOT SO SURE] is sung by the band’s live member ANDREA BALENCY and shows Campos experimenting with scrappy guitar riffs; and T.A.M.E.D, sung by Dominic Maker, is described as “Our version of a pop song; a really deranged pop song”.
The album reveals a freer, warmer and more confident MOUNT KIMBIE. “Having more people involved has really helped let go of a bit of control”, Maker explains. “The memory of this record is very different from the last one; this one feels very bright, and the last one feels really dark. I guess that comes from having it be something that’s shared with friends”.
Another source of this influence of new personalities helping define the direction of the record was the series of NTS Radio shows that the pair curated in 2015 and 2017. The eclectic shows featured album contributors JAMES BLAKE, MICACHU and KING KRULE, plus guests ACTRESS, WILLIAM BASINSKI, SAVAGES, CONNAN MOCKASIN, WARPAINT and JULIA HOLTER, giving the band a fresh ear for what they wanted to create themselves. As Maker puts it, “The variety of the shows definitely pushed us to explore new areas, new pieces of kit, new sounds”.
Looking at this point in their career it’s also worth considering the ground that MOUNT KIMBIE have already navigated. Since releasing their debut CROOKS & LOVERS in 2010, a kaleidoscopic classic that redefined the possibilities of UK electronic music, they have constantly evolved. The follow-up, 2013’s critically acclaimed COLD SPRING FAULT LESS YOUTH, was a bold move into song writing and live instrumentation. They recruited KING KRULE to provide vocals on two tracks, and sang on record themselves for the first time on the tape-hiss house anthem MADE TO STRAY, creating a new world of introspection and melancholy, fleeting between electronic programming, synthesized sound and acoustic production.
Their continual forward motion has positioned MOUNT KIMBIE as one of the UK’s most respected and progressive artists. Their central role in the birth of the so-called post-dubstep sound initially inspired a generation of producers around the turn of the decade, and has more recently crossed over to some of the biggest USA artists. Their CROOKS & LOVERS standout track ADRIATIC found new life in the CHANCE THE RAPPER and JUSTIN BIEBER song Juke Jam in 2016; while Dom worked with JAMES BLAKE on production for multiple tracks on the new JAY-Z album. Yet despite the weight of their influence, the duo remains impossible to categorise. LOVE WHAT SURVIVES only adds to their reputation, proving the band are as vital as ever, and offering no clues as to where their thrilling evolution might visit next.
Having toured the USA extensively throughout May and June this year, MOUNT KIMBIE will embark on a full UK and European tour in the autumn. Full dates as follows:
Fri 27 LIVERPOOL Music Week @ Invisible Wind Factory
Sat 28 MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Mon 30 GLASGOW Art School
Wed 01 BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Thu 02 BRISTOL Motion
Fri 03 LONDON Roundhouse
Sat 04 BRUSSELS AB
Sun 05 AMSTERDAM Paradiso
Tue 07 OSLO Parkteatret
Wed 08 STOCKHOLM Kagelbanan
Thu 09 COPENHAGEN Vega
Fri 10 BERLIN Astra Kulturhaus
Sat 11 WARSAW Niebo
Sun 12 KRAKOW Kwadrat
Tue 14 PRAGUE Meet Factory
Wed 15 VIENNA Flex
Thu 16 MUNICH Muffathalle
Fri 17 ZURICH Mascotte
Sat 18 MILAN Magnolia
Sun 19 MARSEILLE Cabaret Aleatoire
Tue 21 MONTPELLIER Le Rockstore
Wed 22 BARCELONA Razzmatazz 2
Thu 23 MADRID Joy Eslava
Fri 24 BIARRITZ L’Atabal
Sat 25 PARIS Le Trianon
Mon 27 COLOGNE Kantine
Tue 28 TOURCOING Le Grand Mix