Mount Kimbie’s curious career has taken them from the outer limits of system culture to become one of the most lauded UK electronic projects of their era. Possessing a quiet, sustained influence, the pair – Dom Maker and Kai Campos – fuse club tropes with deft engineering, often resulting in skeletal, uniquely affecting constructions. Alongside this, however, they’ve developed a bold reputation for collaboration, often with surprising results.
New album ‘MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning’ grapples with this dualistic dichotomy, squaring the circle by placing one inside the other. Essentially two albums overlaid on top of one another, the record has two spirits: Dom and Kai, collaboration and introspection. A comparison point could be OutKast’s famously split double LP ‘Speakerboxx / The Love Below’; another would be a playlist or Dropbox of work completed, shared unhindered and unedited.
The opening side to the record is more collaborative, and more open. Early highlights include the sensational ‘In Your Eyes’ which features UK spitter slowthai facing off against Danny Brown. Kucka leans in on ‘F1 Racer’, while the deeply affecting ‘Somehow She’s Still Here’ pairs Mount Kimbie against old friend James Blake, the lo-fi drum machine beats placed in conjunction with an old soul sample, and – naturally – Blake’s exquisite delivery. Neither party has rarely sounded better; it’s divine.
NYC outlaw Wiki injects ‘If And When’ with some deviant DNA, before ‘Tender Hearts Meets The Sky’ interpolates neo-soul into their electronic axis through a gorgeous guest spot from KeiyaA.
The second half of the record draws the curtains a little, a song selection that seems to emphasis privacy, and subtlety. ‘Q’ feels like a cousin to those early DJ Seinfeld cuts, while ‘Satellite 7’ is a devilishly pretty piece of wonky electronics. ‘Zone 3 (City Limits)’ takes on an alien, ethereal quality, as though it were soundtracking some lost dystopian anime film; ‘Zone 1 (24 Hours)’ ups the tempo, however, a surging, heads-down techno chugger that doesn’t shrink from embracing new ideas.
Closing with the spectral ‘Human Voices’, ‘MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning’ has a pleasingly unkempt feel. Known for finessing every aspect of their work down to its most minute detail, the record has the feeling of Mount Kimbie simply throwing open the studio doors, and allowing the light to seep in. While it lacks the careful construction of ‘Love What Survives’, say, it takes on a curatorial nous of its own; in Mount Kimbie’s world, twinkling neo-ambient digitalism and bruk-out MC collabs carry the same weight. While the two instincts don’t always sit easily with one another, the sparks caused by that creative friction makes for one of the most engrossing UK electronic albums to land in 2022.
Words: Robin Murray