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Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers review

Well, here it is ladies and gentleman: the debut Mount Kimbie LP. Released on Scuba’s increasingly influential Hotflush imprint, which was responsible for Joy Orbison’s ubiquitous 2009 anthem “Hyph Mngo” and the groundbreaking Triangulation album from the label chief, Crooks & Lovers is an aural delight from start to finish. Both Dom and Kai have been at pains to insist their sound is not dubstep per se – and although this is true, it’s equally apparent that they wouldn’t exist in their current form without having the genre as a base from which to explore their own sonic territory.

From the trademark vocal snatches and playful bleeps of “Would Know” to the twangy guitar line and wonderfully chopped vocal melody on “Before I Move Off”, the duo create a sonic landscape in which every sound matters, with sparse instrumentation, warm pads and typically delicate vocal refrains produced with intricate poise. There are highlights aplenty, but the melodic flourish of “Carbonated”, which is just so damn warm and fuzzy it’s ridiculous, stands as one of the finer moments – it’s like dubstep meets R&B meets the xx.  “Field”, meanwhile, begins with the compressed warmth of Actress before dropping into a mini orgy of bird calls, junkyard percussion, off kilter drums and guitar licks.

A lone snare and sombre guitar brings the album to a thoughtful, beatless close with “Between Time”. In Crooks & Lovers Mount Kimbie have set a high watermark for electronic music in 2010 – the question is, who will be able to keep up?

Aaron Coultate