SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO live: It’s the Beat (and the knobs)

Jas Smith, Simian Mobile Disco, pic by Mikala Taylor

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 will go down in my musical history as the day I had to leave the front row of a gig because Simian Mobile Disco’s ridiculous arena lighting rig was facing directly at the audience and blinding us. The strobes were so powerful and so perpetual that they actually also made me sweat whilst burning my corneas.

So I was relieved that on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012, SMD had left the airplane landing lights at home, allowing me to be down in front, pay attention to the artistry of their gear-shifting and have a dance, without risking any more of my -4.25 sight.

Fact is, I have a LOVE-MEH relationship with SMD’s stuff, a relationship that goes back to when I’d see ’em play as Simian in tiny London bars. But I’ll always give ’em a chance to make me dance: sometimes their electro is deep, the techno nerdy and the beats immersive and full. Other times, their wordless house just hangs in the background for me, a sort of of aural wallpaper. But what I do dig is this: Jas Shaw and James Ford are skilled producers and electrotechnicians who know how to work a full table of dork: analog synths, buttons, knobs, more buttony knobs and Shaw’s full rack of BUTTONS AND KNOBS CONNECTED BY WIRES that made him look like he’d be able to patch through my call to the late 1800s, and listen in while I gossip with Laura Ingalls.

And this certainly beats Skrillex pressing play on his Macbook: Shaw and Ford actually strip wires, lead them back into new knobs, talk to each other, make changes to the music on the fly.

Oh, and the music? Think I could discern a few milder contenders off Unpatterns and Delicacies – “Seraphim” and “Aspic” I’m sure/possibly/maybe (I’d had a few gins), but the winners for me always go back to Attack Decay Sustain Release-era, though Jas n’ James buried a sped-up sample from “Hustler” into another track rather than let ‘er out to get dirty. But “Sleep Deprivation” was there, “I Got This Down” (right?) grooved and “I Believe” was glorious in the encore.

Ruling? More LOVE than MEH. That and buttons and knobs are good when they are also accompanied by wires. \m/

James Ford, Simian Mobile Disco, pic by Mikala Taylor

Jas Shaw, Simian Mobile Disco, pic by Mikala Taylor

Jas Smith, Simian Mobile Disco, pic by Mikala Taylor

Simian Mobile Disco, pic by Mikala Taylor

James Ford, Simian Mobile Disco, pic by Mikala Taylor

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