Last fall on All Songs Considered, I shared a cut from one of my favorite acts of 2010, Mount Kimbie. When the show taped, I was in the middle of my love affair with Crooks and Lovers, a polished debut that felt both precise and spontaneous in its arrangements. Again and again, I wandered through the album's nuanced sounds: everything from unblemished pops echoing down winding tunnels to pitched-up samples of recent R&B. These were isolated, intimate listening sessions between my headphones and me.
Formed in London in 2008, Dominic Maker and Kai Campos' music is rooted in dubstep, a U.K.-based genre born from drum and bass, reggae and U.K. garage. In the few years that the pair has been making music as Mount Kimbie, it's successfully drawn in U.S. fans, and when you venture into these soundscapes, it's easy to see why. The looping cadences are equal parts groundbreaking and accessible, using pristine timbres to lure the listener into offsetting rhythms. At NPR Music's first-ever electronic Tiny Desk Concert, Mount Kimbie did this by triggering samples from drum pads and MIDI controllers, then layering with a live drum and guitar to round out the sound.
While the group was setting up, I nosed around the Tiny Desk to see what gadgets Mount Kimbie had in store for us. But as I looked over the array of MIDI controllers, drum machines and pedals, I worried that a live setting might strip away some of the intimacy that I'd enjoyed at the end of last year. My fears were put to rest the moment the fuzzy tones of "Maybes" began to wash over me. Soon enough, the room full of curious onlookers faded from my consciousness, and I found myself once again in a personal listening space — just Mount Kimbie and me.
- "Ode To Bear"
Michael Katzif and Bob Boilen (cameras); edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Neil Tevault; photo by Erin Schwartz