The prelude to Mount Kimbie’s second record, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, was marked by massive levels of anticipation. The UK production duo’s 2010 debut, Crooks & Lovers, garnered the stamp of approval from tastemaking publications Pitchfork, NME and Vice and thrust the delicate post-dubsteppers onto the global festival trail. During the three years between albums, Mount Kimbie were also added to the ranks of prestigious UK electronic label Warp Records, bringing them to the attention of even more expectant ears. One half of the band, Dominic Maker, reveals that all this adulation became a creative obstacle.
“We didn’t expect the reaction people had to Crooks & Lovers,” he says. “After we released it we toured for two years and didn’t write a thing at all during that time. To be honest, when we eventually got into a studio and began to start writing again, we found we had forgotten our methods.”
Although writer’s block is never a welcome occurrence, combating this creative impasse inadvertently allowed Mount Kimbie to forget about the heightened public expectations. “Looking back on it now, that was quite a blessing, but at the time it was unsettling,” says Maker. “We spent a lot of time in the studio working hard with no results. This was our prime concern and deflected our attention away from dwelling on the situation we were in as a band.”
When Maker and Mount Kimbie cohort Kai Campos signed with legendary label Warp, they joined the likes of Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin and TNGHT on a roster of such prevailing integrity that attention is inevitably drawn towards its artists no matter who they are. “Signing to Warp was a huge moment,” Maker says. “Hotflush [Recordings] had been fantastic, [but] we didn’t have a home for our music for a while after we finished our contract with them. Then suddenly we had a few offers on the table from bigger labels and it was difficult making decisions and thinking about the future. We instantly knew Warp was a suitable home for us. The label has such a rich history in electronic music and there was no pressure to do anything we didn’t want to do.”
Gruff young Londoner King Krule (AKA Archy Marshall) provides vocals for two Cold Spring Fault Less Youth tracks, including the single ‘You Took Your Time’. The contrast between Marshall’s gravel-mouthed voice and Mount Kimbie’s tonal fragility introduced a new colour to the band’s palette. Maker explains that although he and Campos reached out to Marshall at first, the songs were developed collaboratively.
“The tracks were only 40-second loops when Archy came in to our studio to listen to what we had been doing. We had been fans of his work as Zoo Kid for a long time and we always talked about wanting him to be involved in Mount Kimbie one way or another. It felt good working with such a strong voice and we all worked together on the trajectory of those two tracks.”
Cold Spring Fault Less Youth also features vocals from the band’s two constituent members, which is a further expansion upon their debut. Mount Kimbie have now unveiled a pair of critically esteemed records, both untarnished by prevalent commercial demands, and Maker says they’re firm believers in the artistic credentials of the album format.
“In our experience, when we become truly unconcerned with the outside world and focus entirely on creating an album’s worth of songs, we find our best ideas. I feel that intensity would be lost if people stopped writing albums. You need more than a few sentences to truly tell a story.”
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY
Mount Kimbie play St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival with Chvrches, Haim, Jagwar Ma, Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, Daughter, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Parquet Courts, Lorde and more at Sydney College of the Arts on Sunday February 2. Mount Kimbie also headline the Metro Theatre on Wednesday January 29. Cold Spring Fault Less Youth out now through Warp.