smd

If Simian Mobile Disco’s last record, ‘Unpatterns’, found them unsure of whether to experiment with brave new sonic directions or refine existing ones, the knowledge that their latest was recorded live on two modular synths in the middle of the Californian desert over just three days might provide an inkling of which path the duo chose. And within seconds of the opening track commencing, with undulating sine waves and barely a shred of dancefloor bombast, that hunch is confirmed.

What follows is an hour of featherlite, widescreen daydream music full of absorbing electronic flourishes that recall The Orb and Boards of Canada, and even when the straighter beats do drop, as on the motorik ‘Calyx’, there’s enough movement and dislocation to maintain the attention. ‘Whorl’ doesn’t push boundaries in the same way as Holden’s and Luke Abbot’s recent adventures with analogue synths – at crucial points it lacks the textural heft that could make it truly great – but nonetheless it feels like a worthy addition to that canon: it’s woozy, gauzy and engrossing stuff.

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