Simian Mobile Disco Perform at the Fonda Theater



Its that time of year for Simian Mobile Disco to hit North America with their esteemed live performance. Last Friday they brought the heat to the Fonda Theater for their first US gig since September, also in the City of Angels, at Goldenvoice’s FYF Festival. No doubt 2012 has proven to be a busy year for the duo having released a full album and follow-up EP within just seven months, and touring heavily across the globe. But that’s their modus operandi. A perfect machine, meeting almost every need one fan could warrant.

Dave P and JDH opened with a minimal paced house set. Despite them holding a relatively menial rank in the grand scheme of honest artistry, these guys are always enjoyable. They seem to a have relationship of some unknown degree with the guys of SMD; I’ve witnessed them open for the duo three times this year and they’ve contributed to several past tours as well. Both Dave and JDH are partners in Fixed NYC, who have put on gigs for SMD across Manhattan multiple times over the years. These two certainly have experience in buttering up the crowd for headliners, although they did display a touch of rookie irony when they played “Seraphim” from Simian’s Unpatterns album just before they were take to the limelight. All in all they were again successful in getting the party started for their much anticipated followers.

The new album translated beautifully live, much better than I had expected and my expectations were quite high. There are so many aspects to Simian Mobile that differ them from their peers, but most of those characteristics lie within their live experience. Its similar to hearing a jam band play if they were personified through a set of turntables. Always possessing an odd, psychedelic approach to dance music, the material they’ve put out this year is a large step away from previous works like Temporary Pleasure, or Attack, Sustain, Decay, Release, and for the better. So much content is strategically flowing through deceivingly simple music, and that is the creative genius that I love about these two artists. Carefully delivered London-style house beats, low tones, descendant angelic synths, and dark crunchy progressions are key designs for the gentle, seamless plunge into a cozy, yet strange abyss the crowd was nestled in. Although they stand very relevant in electronic music, especially minimal genres, they consistently stay devoid of common formulas and can improvise a whole segment of dreamlike sequences of sound without even needing drum tracks.

Very well known for their theatrics, they’ve really dulled down their light show. Always remaining just under the mainstream radar while simultaneously maintaining a dedicated and large fanbase, I think this may have the intention. Jas Shaw and James Ford, the collective sagacity behind the SMD moniker, stated in interviews that Unpatterns would be a very different direction from their past works and that it was centered exclusively around the music that they wanted to make. Little did they know that their new album would explode on the charts and result in a much broader audience. A decrease in visual stimulus just puts more focus on the music, which puts them completely in control, and the end result is remarkable.

The “I Believe” closer is really difficult to explain. The song on its own its nothing short of majestic. For some reason, in my head at least, it always brings me to the image of Ryan Phillippe lifelessly sprawled in the middle of the street after being hit by a car. However since Jas and James are confirmed masters of sound-production, there is nothing like seeing it performed live. Intrinsic to their unique qualities, no set is ever the same, and the version sewn at the Fonda was just breathtaking. The song started in a standard fashion, however when it came time to cue that unmistakable bass drop after the first verse, it spiraled into an undeniable display of accented musicianship and integrity. The snyths were noticeably crisp and emphasized in a way I’ve never heard them, or anyone else for that matter, pull off. Each note is brought to life with such a delicate execution, no one can even come close to capturing such an organic feel with this genre like they manage to.

If Ketamine was converted into audio frequencies I have a hunch it would sound a lot like Simian Mobile Disco. This show will rank as one of the best I’ve seen this year, and I suggest you find yourself at one of the remaining tour dates.



Posted on December 10, 2012, in Show Reviews, Upcoming Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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