Maybe it’s the result of too many miserable early mornings in school assembly, but I’ve always hated the sound of choirs. So it’s unfortunate that Simian Mobile Disco’s new album – a collaboration with Hackney’s heeeeelariously named Deep Throat Choir – should have landed in my inbox. Because this isn’t one of those albums – like Nils Frahm’s wonderful All Melody for example – that uses the choir in a restrained and subtle fashion. Oh no. SMD slather their choir all over this album rather like me, the first time my mum let me spread jam on my toast all by myself. They’ve got a choir, and by god are they going to use it.
The concept of mixing angelic human voices with subtle, stripped-back techno isn’t necessarily a bad one of course, and for the duration of one song or so it’s actually rather wonderful. The song in question is ‘Caught in a Wave’, one of the best ways of spending seven minutes 2018 has thus far produced, heavenly voices spiralling out of a minimal, throbbing pulse to beguiling effect.
No, the problem with Murmurations is that a concept that works well for seven minutes is stretched out to a whole album’s length and rapidly outstays its welcome. ‘We Go’ for example aims at My Life in the Bush of Ghosts world music gravitas and falls well short due to a chronic lack of anything interesting happening during its eight interminable minutes. ‘A Perfect Swarm’, which is the closest SMD come to the bangers of old, is ruined by that bloody choir making stupid bee noises on top of it. And ‘Hey Sister’ and ‘Defender’ are the most irritating sounds I’ve had to listen to since I got my dodgy aircon unit fixed. Only the hypnotic loops of ‘V Formation’ don’t have me reaching for the skip button, primarily because the choir’s foul presence is kept to a minimum.
Sorry SMD, I love you dearly, but I’m going to blast out Delicacies for the thousandth time, and send Murmurations down the curtain to join the choir invisible where it belongs.