Simian Mobile Disco: Live

Issued on Simian Mobile Disco's own Delicacies imprint, Live benefits so much from its live presentation, it's a wonder more electronic acts don't do the same. The music seems to feed off of all of the energy generated by the bodies in the room and comes to life all the more as a result. UK duo James Ford and James Shaw recorded the album in one take sans edits during a Philadelphia performance in December 2012, and no in-studio fine-tuning was involved. Consequently, the material (a mix of past and present Simian Mobile Disco releases), while as sleek as one would expect from such a synth-heavy outfit, exudes a raw and visceral quality that can get lost when work is produced in a sterilizing studio setting. It's not the first live recording the group has released either, with Live In Japan having appeared in 2008.

The live presentation naturally brings a rave-like quality to the fore that's especially evident in stormers like “A Species Out of Control,” “It's the Beat,” and “Wooden,” but the music's bottom end has ample heft and bounce, too. Pitched at a perpetual frenzy, the duo's music snarls with ferocious intent during epic barnburners such as “Supermoon,” “Wooden,” and “Skin Cracker.” The mix catches its breath forty minutes in when “Seraphim” slows the tempo for a soulful and stately rest-stop before going off the psychedelic deep end with “Interference.” Elsewhere, old-school rap snippets give “It's the Beat” an individuating character, and squiggly acid-techno seeps into a few tracks (e.g., “Hustler (Jam)”), too.

The recording unspools as one single sixty-eight-minute set with no separate indexing of the fifteen tracks featured. That's not so much of a problem, however, when the times at which the individual cuts appear within the mix are clarified in the inner sleeve. Crowd noise sometimes surfaces but faintly and more as a reminder to the listener that what's being heard was hatched live. In simplest terms, Live presents a euphoric, high-energy dazzle of tripped-out synth swirl (R2-D2 synth swizzle, too), vocal samples, and pounding beats that clearly plays to the group's strengths.

April 2013