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In April, Simian Mobile Disco trekked out to the Southern California desert, taking with them just two modular synths, two sequencers, and a mixer. Over a period of three days, they jammed and rehearsed in the desert, culminating in a one off sold out show at Pappy & Harriet’s, Pioneertown, allowing 900 fans to witness part of the recording process.
Those sessions, taped under the desert sky, became the basis for their brand new album “Whorl”. Now, after completing mixing and mastering, they are pleased to announce that the final studio album will be released through Anti Records (Tom Waits, Kate Bush) on September the 8th. “Whorl” is available for pre-order now.
The album will be preceded by a single, “Tangents”, on the 1st of July. SMD’s new live system was born out of a desire to challenge themselves – to remove computers altogether, going back to hardware sequencers, and limiting themselves to a suitcase sized rack of modular synth gear each –which both reduces the sound palette but allows much more hands on, real time manipulation – constraining themselves technically, to free themselves up musically.
Jas, on the recording process – “The recordings we did in the studio while we were writing and rehearsing the new material for Whorl were simply “live” takes – the system we’re using has limited ability to save patterns in the sequencer, but nothing like the flexibility of a computer. Live performance and studio composition are essentially now the same process, rather than the common method of writing a track using the computer, and then working out ways to perform it live. We planned not to slavishly limit ourselves just to this performance – when we came to mixdown the album, we used portions of three sessions – the show itself, an extended jam we did in the desert the day before, and a little of our London studio rehearsal. ” Future live performances of Whorl are currently being planned, with a full list of tour dates to come – each show will be a live recreation of that recording process, so each time “Whorl” will be slightly different.
To reflect the organic, analogue aims of the new musical set up, long time SMD art & video collaborators Jack Featherstone & Hans Lo have built a complimentary bespoke hardware system to create the album’s visual aesthetic. The system involves feeding live generated digital content through an oscilloscope, filming the oscilloscope’s screen, then further processing the image produced. This system will be used in forthcoming videos and SMD’s live shows (it was debuted at Sonar this weekend). The cover image is a still grabbed from one of these oscilloscope jams, capturing a moment of flux in performance.
The accompanying trailer showcases all the elements of the Whorl project, including the desert valley where the rehearsal/jam was recorded, the landscape that inspired the performances, the oscilloscope visuals and the show at Pappy & Harriets. In the coming weeks, further video pieces will explore different elements in more detail. The video is set to a short excerpt of “Tangents”.