Simian Mobile Disco: A Form of Change (review)

Simian Mobile Disco

A Form of Change EP

Wichita Recordings

Four tracks recorded during sessions for Unpatterns their 2012 full length (also on Wichita) comprise Simian Mobile Disco’s A Form of Change EP. Like the LP, there is a sense of space and, in places, ambiance afoot that opens up the sound spectrum;  Form of Change rids itself of a bit of the busier passagework found in their early recordings. This may cause the pieces to be a bit less visceral in impact; but the economy of means allows for one to position these pieces somewhere between downtempo dancehall and ambient IDM, a fertile ground that, prior to this year, wasn’t really in SMD’s bailiwick. The change of musical approach works handily.

Active Child: on tour, live video

Last night, I was listening to Active Child, trying to decide which cut I’d include with this post announcing their tour.

The soundscape was redolent with soft pop/eighties alterna-dance reference points. Mainstreaming alert! My wife’s nose reflexively wrinkles.

“You’re full of surprises,” said Kay. “Just when I think I’ve got your musical preferences sussed, you play something else that surprises me.”

Then she hears the next track I play from Active Child. “Oh, this is cool. I get it now. They’ve got more diverse musical tastes than I realized at first.”

I know I’m partial, but she’s so smart. Active Child songwriter Pat Grossi’s interests may encompass some radio-friendly fare that isn’t ordinarily my cup of tea, but he treats its elements far better than ordinary artists. And when he goes out on a limb, picks up his harp, and looks down more unusual pathways, I’m consistently engaged. One imagines that they’ll be doing quite a bit of the latter when they support M83 on tour (dates below).

You Are All I See is out now via Vagrant.

Active Child Tour Dates
Oct 28 – Washington DC @ Black Cat (Early Show)*
Oct 28 – Washington DC @ Black Cat (Late Show)*
Oct 29 – Raleigh, NC @ King’s Barcade & Tavern*
Oct 30 – Asheville, NC @ Moogfest
Oct 31 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade*
Nov 01 – Tallahassee, FL @ The Engine Room*
Nov 02 – Orlando, FL @ The Beacham*
Nov 04 – Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live*
Nov 05 – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest
Nov 07 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom*
Nov 09 – Hollywood, CA @ The Music Box*
Nov 10 – San Francisco, CA @ Mezzanine*
Nov 11 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom*
Nov 13 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos (Early Show)*
Nov 13 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos (Late Show)
Nov 16 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue*
Nov 17 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall (Early Show)*
Nov 17 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall (Late Show)*
Nov 20 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues*
Nov 22 – New York City, NY @ Webster Hall*
Nov 23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg*
*Supporting M83

Zomby: Dedication (CD Review)


Online, UK producer Zomby cultivates a fairly mysterious presence, but music speaks louder than the blogosphere. Indeed, Zomby has shared his most eloquent and personal release yet with Dedication, his debut full length release for the 4AD imprint. According to AMG, the dedicatee in question is the producer’s father, who passed away while the album was being made. And while there’s little time to pause for reflection in 35 minute long rush in which Dedication’s fifteen track’s are delivered, there’s an undeniable warmth of presence, a humanist deconstruction of dubstep to foreground its most accessible melodic elements, which signals a palpable shift in Zomby’s musical values.

For every ode to glitch electronica, such as the percussion-filled “Vortex,” there is an impossibly lovely watercolor synth/dance essay like “Natalia’s Song” that serves as a musical counterweight. And tracks like “Haunted” and “Basquiat” integrate an affecting lyricism into Zomby’s already multifaceted sound world. If one had a tiny quibble, it would simply be that several of these cuts could easily have been extended to allow them to blossom more fully. But one still must admit that, as a compressed document, everything works. Dedication proves to be a lithe and essential sonic essay on the potential for dance electronica to be reinvigorated as a boldly moving idiom on more levels than the merely kinetic.