(Delicatessen / Delicacies) Simian Mobile Disco, the Electronic duo of James Ford and Jas Shaw, arrive home from touring the world and they need to tell us of the kinds of food they’ve tasted on the road. Delicacies, the third album from the English dancehall boys, carries a strong taste of their home sensibilities. However, there are certainly new, more exotic, more surreal flavors that have been experimented with out there in the clubs and cafes of distant lands.
Rhythms lean heavily into Techno territory, far more than previous releases. In the world of Electronica, where sub-genre lines are rigid and firmly asserted by the initiated, Simian Mobile Disco has done their best to break with preconceptions of the listening hoards. Their subject matter of exotic foods sits as a perfect metaphor. Yes, they’ve travelled; yes, they’ve sampled dishes that perhaps we haven’t, and now they want to cook for us. We may need to disregard the old recipe books.
Beats come, they click, they thump, they spiral, swirl, rise and fall but in a way that is solid, not tidal. You’re lifted and carried from one track to the next in a running order that only DJs with countless nights of experience could have achieved. There’s a strange, unforced substance to what goes on. Imagine you dreamt of eating some strange fruit, to wake and find seeds on your pillow--that’s the kind of sensation you’re in for. A half-waking dream--it’s not wistful, it’s not weak, and it’s certainly not naive.
Other dance acts get too busy with altering directions, trying to fit too much into a single track. Simian Mobile Disco refuses to struggle with such petty distractions. When a beat is good, it’s good. Clicks and beeps cut their own path for as long as it takes; new ideas are slowly layered. Like salt being slowly added to taste, pinch by pinch, you get the full flavor but not in any hurry. These dishes are executed with the perfect levels of seasoning.
“Thousand Year Old Egg” is perhaps the most cinematic and visual of the tracks, which isn’t to state moodiness or over-reflection. It’s a real high point of the album and an avant-garde achievement of weirdness for the masses. You can’t get closer to the experience of being inside an eggshell and being dropped into bubbling water than you can by listening to this track. Understandably, you may ask if you really want to be cooked this way, but why not give it a try? You may like it.
A pleasing element of the collection is track length. Nothing is ever shorter than seven minutes, and there’s a sense of reward and surprise within each tune. The only shortcoming is that, like all world travelers, there’s not enough time to hear stories of all that Simian Mobile Disco has seen.
“Ortolan,” the closing track, is the name of a sweet song bird on the Protected Species List which is also served as a gastronomic treat in France. It’s a poignant title for the most melodic and conventionally beautiful music on the album. The interest that the duo has in what the world has offered them is a testimony to their type of intelligence and integrity. They haven’t simply returned with replicas of sound or influence--they get beneath the surface of experience.
For Fans Of: CSS, Digitalism, Chromeo
Standout Tracks: “Nerve Salad,” “Thousand Year Old Egg,” “Ortolan”