Mount Kimbie

The Sunset Violent

Out April 05, 2024

Warp Records

Sometimes you have to go where the sky is bigger. Where a big blue blanket of nothingness yawns above you for miles in every direction, and you can stare for hours into a horizon unpunctuated. No buildings. No billboards, clawing into the cloud formations. Just blank, endless, enveloping emptiness, to both lose and find yourself in. The Sunset Violent was born under such a sky – but maybe you don’t need to be told that. Maybe you’ve already listened to the ambitious fourth album from Mount Kimbie (Dominic Maker, Kai Campos, Andrea Balency-Béarn and Marc Pell) and had guessed as much, from its desert-airspace vastness. The Sunset Violent is an album as grand and free and wandering as a deep-sleep dream, full of breathily-dispatched drags of absurdist poetry about beaches in China and kitchens ablaze. Where else could it have been made but a dust-bowl town that looks like a lunar surface? Where cicadas sing and cactus plants jut out of the earth and from a porch step at dusk, you can seem to witness the heat death of the universe?


The Sunset Violent began in a disused frat house in the American Yucca Valley. Kimbie’s founding members Dominic Maker and Kai Campos live a world apart these days – the former in LA, where he juggles Mount Kimbie commitments with songwriting sessions for the likes of James Blake, Travis Scott, Arlo Parks and Flume; the latter in London, where his hardware DJ sets have earned widespread acclaim. When the time came for the pair to begin work on a new Kimbie record – their first proper album together since 2017’s Love What Survives – the decision was made to decamp to a remote Californian town. Campos and Maker relocated for a month to a town with little to offer but a couple of saloons, a basin with a history of alleged UFO sightings and, of even more unanswerable intrigue, a not-bad sushi restaurant, in the middle of nowhere, in the actual desert.


Here, they began work on an album inspired by eclectic pleasures: the dark derangement of Roald Dahl short stories coming to life in Maker’s lyrics, reflective of his “chaotic, helter skelter” recent personal life; the earnest directness of local country radio stations on the duo’s melodies. Campos, meanwhile, found himself reaching for his guitar like never before in his contributions to the record. An instrument that has always had a place in the Kimbie sonic tapestry, this time it was allowed to lead the way, becoming a constant presence of the record alongside its LinnDrum rhythms (the band made the choice for this album to use that 1980s drum machine exclusively, in search of a more linear sound).


The resulting album, finished in London with longtime confidante Dillip Harris and their now full-time band mates Balency-Béarn and Pell, is thirty seven minutes of Mount Kimbie at simultaneously their most daring and their most giddily infectious. One track, Shipwreck is the echoing indie-rock lament of someone lost emotionally ashore. Got Me, meanwhile, is a glimmering piano-led electronic fantasia. Elsewhere, frequent collaborator King Krule parachutes in for two tracks – one a sonic slow dance full of borderline shoegaze fuzziness (Boxing), the other an upbeat Joy Division-ish spectacle (Empty and Silent). And then there are Dumb Guitar and Fishbrain – each further proof that this is the most strident version of Mount Kimbie to date.


How can this album be Kimbie’s most daring and their most infectious, you might be wondering? It may sound like a contradiction, but then, this is a record of contradictions, right down to its evocative title. The Sunset Violent is a phrase in which a thing of beauty meets a thing of threat, housed in Kubrickian syntax. To you, it might evoke the climate crisis – our natural world on the brink of burning us to a cinder. It might also be a reflection on the band’s pathway to this moment – two creative soul mates peering from a distance at the afterglow of the London post-dubstep scene they exploded onto a decade and a half ago, marvelling at the violent eruption of electronic-inflected post punk that’s taken its place.


Think of a sunset and you might think of an ending – the day dimming into darkness until it’s no more. On The Sunset Violent, an album that marks fifteen years of Mount Kimbie, it’s clear that their creative spark is by no means at an end. Sometimes you have to go where the sky is bigger. Mount Kimbie will take you there – to their lunar porch, from which everything is visible.