Artists / Bands, Culture, Dance / Electro, Releases — May 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Simian Mobile Disco presents ‘Unpatterns’


Simian Mobile Disco is proud to announce the release of their brand new album Unpatterns on May 14 via Wichita Recordings (distribution in South-East Asia by Love Da Records).

“It’s a record full of love, dedication, hard-earned experience, obvious understanding of decades of electronic music from across scenes and styles, and huge fun. It’s completely of the now, showing a band as familiar with Blawan and Lone as they are with Silver Apples and Phuture, but never jumping on bandwagons.”

Watch the video clips for “Put Your Hands Together”, “Cerulean” and “Seraphim”:

Simian Mobile Disco has developed an iPhone/iPad app in collaboration with Kate Moross. It allows the user to listen to the entirety of SMD’s brand new album, Unpatterns, whilst playing with a host of custom designed moire patterns. Each patten can be manipulated by touch screen, to create shifting and evolving interference patterns.

UNPATTERNS Track Listing
1. I Waited For You
2. Cerulean
3. Seraphim
4. A Species Out of Control
5. Interference
6. Put Your Hands Together
7. The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife
8. Your Love Ain’t Fair
9. Pareidolia
10. Everyday (bonus iTunes exclusive)


James and Jas of Simian Mobile Disco, though quite different in personality, are both modest fellows. In conversation each of them, more than once, puts the success of SMD down to sheer luck – however, this is not really true. Yes, they were in the right place at the right time in some senses, but it takes an awful lot more than that to bring an album as sonically glorious and ambitious as Unpatterns to as broad an audience as they are managing to reach. And as you get deeper into the details of their career to date, it becomes very clear how much tenacity, scholarship, imagination and sheer love for what they do, as well as good fortune, has got them to where they are today.

Most of all, their success has been based on learning as they go. And they’ve had plenty of things to learn from since they were thrown into the deep end of the industry when Simian, the band they formed with Simon Lord and Alex McNaughten at Manchester University, was signed to a subsidiary of a major label in 2000. With the arrogance of youth, the four of them convinced themselves that big things were theirs for the taking, but though their two albums were exceedingly well received in many quarters, global domination evaded them; the combination of thwarted ambition and four very different creative personas led to friction and the band split before completing their third album.

Meanwhile, though, the Simian Mobile Disco project had started to take a vague kind of shape. Originally simply a name under which band members would DJ – in order to, says Jas, “satisfy our urges to do something more freeform, as touring locked us into playing the same songs again and again in the same way.” The name, increasingly just referring to James and Jas, was then used for the band’s own remix of themselves, then for remixes of others, and as Simian came to an end became the duo’s main creative outlet as they made more and more electronic tracks for their own DJ sets.

Certainly they were surprised when, after a couple of releases and remixes, making a connection with Wichita Recordings led to the possibility of an album – and they realised they had at least two full CDs’ worth of viable tracks. Attack Decay Sustain Release emerged in 2007, riding a wave of attention following the success of the “Hustler” single first released on the fledgling Kitsuné label, and Justice’s inescapable remix of Simian’s “We Are Your Friends”. Where ADSR had had a couple of guest vocals, its follow up Temporary Pleasure was veritably star spangled. Beth Ditto features prominently, as well as Gruff Rhys, Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, Yeasayer’s Chris Keating and more. The results are sometimes as stellar as the lineup, with “Cruel Intentions” in particular being a deserved underground hit, but both Jas and James have reservations: both admit they were acting too much like producers, letting the singers and songs take precedence rather than “the SMD sound”. It was this they reacted against with Delicacies, a record label (and subsequent compilation album) of straight ahead techno tracks purely designed for their own DJ sets; but even the hedonistic blast of these tracks still felt constrained by techno’s own rule sets.

Which brings us to Unpatterns, an album which more than ever shows just how unwilling Jas and James are to rest on their laurels. In the place of big name guests and ventures into booty-bass, all the voices are abstracted, spaced out, woven into the fabric of the synthetic sound. So broken hearted robots croon in “I Waited For You”, a cyborg Chicago house singer implores us to “Put Your Hands Together”, and alien choirs raise their voices in the ambient “Fourteenth Principles.” It’s a monstrous record with none of the poppiness of ADSR, the multiple voices of Temporary Pleasure nor the orthodox dance dynamics of Delicacies: instead it’s the sound of SMD breaking away from any standard structures and going deep into exploring the possibilities of their studio equipment and selection of vintage synthesizers.

The sound is entirely confident, and brings together all their influences in the pursuit of pure sonic pleasure. In a weird way it brings back the “prog-psychedelic” feel of those very first Simian songs, though with all the knowledge of the dancefloor they’ve gained in the SMD years. And the effect of that is quite uncanny: it completely sidesteps questions of retro and futurism to create a sonic temporal zone all of its own, where the place where relatively primitive electronic sounds stop and the mind-boggling degree of control offered by digital signal processing starts is impossible to locate.
Unpatterns is a record full of love, dedication, hard-earned experience, obvious understanding of decades of electronic music from across scenes and styles, and huge fun.