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Mount Kimbie The Sunset Violent Warp


The Sunset Violent is only the fourth album in Mount Kimbie’s 15-year history, yet it feels like members Kai Campos and Dom Maker have shapeshifted through underground culture with an enviable confidence. Having made the strongest of starts with 2010’s Crooks & Lovers, a ‘post-dubstep’ classic that now feels far too flimsily categorised, the pair quickly evolved as songwriters, capturing the talents of a nascent King Krule on their unwieldy follow-up, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. And that’s all before 2017’s Love What Survives, a fluid stylistic pivot that smoothly reset any expectations placed on the band. More guitar-led and unfashionably indie in sensibility upon its release, the LP’s feedback-washed riffs and wistful undercurrent seemed to trigger yet another resurgence in British post-punk.

An imaginative stopgap in 2022 took the form of MK 3.5: Die Cuts / City Planning, which split the pair’s evocative production style into two mixes of original music; groggy, Dilla-oriented shapes from Maker, and murky London techno from Campos. Both accomplished enough, neither proved as memorable as a large art installation promoting the project escaping down London’s Tottenham Court Road in high winds. Fortunately, this narrowly avoided disaster did not prove prophetic, and The Sunset Violent finds Kampos and Maker comfortably reunited and thriving in new registers.

Campos and Maker have always been able to perceive wider horizons. Accordingly, The Sunset Violent was recorded in California’s Yucca Valley, described by the band as a “surreal landscape” of endless blue skies by day, and UFO sightings by night. This fertile ground for inspiration is just an alien abduction away from Los Angeles, where Maker has been whipping up bonafide hits with the likes of James Blake, Travis Scott and Danny Brown.

Campos and Maker have seamlessly expanded their operation with two polymathic new additions: Andrea Balency-Béarn and Marc Pell, respectively a doctor in composition and one of Mica Levi’s longest-lasting collaborators. It’s a convincing experiment from the off. Opening track The Trail is an organic and disarmingly lovely introduction that establishes the album’s signature 80s LinnDrum sound alongside Béarn’s own vocal hum, dancing together like blackbirds in the spring air.

Pitching up melodically somewhere between Tirzah and Pet Shop Boys’ wry poet Neil Tennant, Béarn’s singing is one of several unusual intersections that Campos and Maker balance impressively. Her lilting contributions perfectly round out the duo’s pleasingly distinct production, which, these days, sits in its own inexplicable space that converges the dusty jangle of the Cleaners from Venus with the textural futurism of Actress. Shipwreck buckles a little under the weight of its own ideas, before Got Me lays down duelling piano keys and a stuttering beat as Maker’s own voice wobbles out of comprehension, urgent in its contrasting minimalism. More than once, The Sunset Violent threatens to decay into dub and disarray, before blossoming with resurgent hope and bright, optimistic melodies. “Another date, I’ll kill myself,” Béarn sings with no little defiance on Dumb Guitar, underscoring The Sunset Violent’s commitment to overcoming the affecting personal obstacles detailed throughout supremely odd character study Fishbrain.

Their old mucker King Krule makes time to pop in, firstly in gnarly vintage form on the shoegazing, slightly superfluous Boxing, before making a magnificent return for Empty and Silent. Across a blissful six minutes, this closing passage finds all involved delivering their finest work, channelling the disco-not-disco of Maximum Joy, the alt-rock sprawl of Sonic Youth, and, crucially, embracing ennui born only of experience. Under the guidance of Campos and Maker, observations such as “a lot of British films are only shot in one or two rooms” hint at those aforementioned wider horizons of art and experience, lifting the banal to the sublime with a classic DIY philosophy. By trusting their own collaborative spirit and hard-earned wisdom, Mount Kimbie’s inward search expands their sound beautifully outwards.