Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns

by James Bray Rating:7 Release Date:2012-06-29

Music magpies/super-producers James Ford and Jas Shaw are back with Unpatterns to bring more big club-night sets into your living room. The record starts out with the dark, yearning 'I Waited for You', immediately evoking expansive urban skies with clubland lying quietly below. Initially the record sounds strangely retro and nostalgic. With all the dance-music crescendos SMD are willing it to be Ibiza 1997 all over again. After a couple of listens the record becomes more relevant and engaging and less retro. It just takes a while to get used to the slow builds which Ford and Shaw favour; the result of being densensitised by hearing David Guetta records everywhere for the past 12 months.

Dance/trance/techno basically reduce music to it's essential forms through loops and repetition; but the best kind will create little mantras which evoke that dance-floor transcendentalism all DJs are chasing. On the best parts of Unpatterns, like 'Interference' and 'Seraphim', SMD achieve this, giving all the big-eyed dancers something to move to this summer. In the sunshine, this kind of record is a welcome break from the mopey folk or mediocre R&B that's clogging up many a playlist these days.
For SMD, the album represents a transition from balls-out acid-house/techno to a more ambient style. On Unpatterns, there are no song titles like 'Tits and Acid' as there were on the group's previous album Attack Decay Sustain Release. The title of the aforementioned 2007 release is basically the group's MO; they take simple beats and melodies and expand, compress and distort them to create something epic. On Unpatterns, Shaw and Ford continue this approach while being more meditative, incorporating trance into the mix.
The album isn't without it's faults; there are a certain amount of tiresome, noodling on tracks like 'Cerulean' but, like all good dance records, it holds together as one continuous piece of music. It's far from perfect, but Unpatterns is a reminder of how good this kind of music can be when it's done well.

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