Simian Mobile Disco: The Mezzanine, San Francisco, CA 3/15/09

Give a thousand monkeys a thousand typewriters and they’ll give you Shakespeare. Give two a pair of Korgs, a Mac sequencer, and an A-100 Modular Synthesizer and they’ll give you something else entirely. The unique coupling of modern and outmoded electronic instruments is the heart of Simian Mobile Disco’s sound, and subsequently their live set up. The spread gives the duo a flexibility to maneuver onstage between digital and analog sound production: a flexibility they explored with curious fervency at the Mezzanine in San Francisco on Sunday Night.

Credit to the house DJ for spinning a taut web of anticipation beforehand, which played out especially well against a steadily darkening stage and variable discharge of fog. SMD emerged as shadows at first. Their silhouettes vaulted around the enormous sound console, shifting patches and tweaking familiar beats. A self-designed lightshow of interchanging reds, greens, blues, and whites syncopated between and around the breaks. The A-100’s capability, coupled with their ability to exploit it, made for a wealth of improvisational segues between numbers. It all built towards and unsteady, albeit intoxicating final. One of skittish beats, tonal shrieks, and total electronic meltdown that gave knew meaning to the word palpitate.

There was something curiously familiar about the whole thing, It dawned on me later that the experience was reminiscent of the opening scene in 2001 A Space Odyssey: the one where Moon Watcher and his followers dance with trepidatious awe around the mysteries, black monolith. The frenzied howling, the tentative yet explosive dancing, the deep, unsettling reverberation, the Technicolor shower—it was all there. But where Moon Watcher still had much to learn from the black shape, these apes have clearly mastered the mysteries of their monolith.

Related Content

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide