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Dubstep lightly

Makers of music in miniature, Mount Kimbie take a softer approach to the genre.

British electronic duo Mount Kimbie formed in the city's felonious hotbed of Peckham. It was there in south London that clashes between darker, agitated dance genres - such as grime, drum'n'bass, 2-step and dub - gave birth to an amorphous, bass-heavy movement known as dubstep.

Interestingly, then, Mount Kimbie's music, like their puppy-soft storybook name, is more calming than unsettling, more likely to engender introspective head-nodding than slam-pogoing. You could even say the music crafted by Mount Kimbie's Kai Campos and Dom Maker is bucolic rather than urban, less surprising when you discover Campos originally hails from a sleepy parish in rural Cornwall, while Maker grew up by Brighton's seaside.

The pair met at a south London university, where Maker was studying film, although Campos is very quick to point out, ''I didn't go very much, so I probably met him outside [university].''

In theory, then, what was Campos on campus for?

''Arts management'' is his almost-apologetic answer.

''I'd just had enough of education, to be honest. I felt like I was getting stupider every day I turned up. Then I boldly decided I'd be fine if I just concentrated on making music. Which, amazingly, worked out.''


After two promising EPs in 2009, the pair received widespread praise for 2010's debut LP, Crooks & Lovers.

Mixing meticulously sculpted field recordings and found sounds with snatches of voice, guitar and electronic rhythms, their hazily skeletal, experimental album was an underground hit, resulting in the bashful Brits promoted to poster boys for ''post-dubstep''.

Their slowly emerging, textural songs arguably have more in common with minimalism than dubstep. Surprised by their debut's success, Campos describes it as ''miniature music''.

''It seems that I'm generally drawn to smaller ideas, which are then expanded, zoomed in on or further explored,'' Campos says. The result is painstaking, micro-editing. Each song fragment is sculpted and resculpted before merging with a bigger, sometimes abstract, picture. Campos says this is best done alone, the pair preferring to convene towards a song's completion.

''You feel quite self-conscious listening to three or four seconds of sound on repeat for two hours when someone else is there.

''The best stuff happens when you're not making any conscious decisions, almost like they're being made for you. Then, something like six hours can pass, just being in a bit of a trance. You feel kind of excited by what you've done, not really sure where it's come from. That's a pretty intoxicating feeling.''

However, such productive sessions do have a downside.

''I do find that if I've been working a lot, I'm not very fun to be around,'' Campos says. ''My girlfriend doesn't enjoy it when I come home from the studio if I've been there for 12 hours.''


Friday, May 4, 8pm, The Hi-Fi, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park.
TICKETS thehifi.com.au/sydney, 1300 843 443, $43.
TRAVEL Buses from city, Bondi Junction, Newtown to Anzac Parade; taxi rank out the front; undercover parking (via Lang Road).
LIVE Guitars, laptops, gadgets, effects. Dance music for the top half of your body.
BEST TRACK Would Know from album Crooks & Lovers.