The latest instalment in the long running Late Night Tales series sees Metronomy take the reins. Metronomy– to all intents and purposes the solo project of Joe Mount– have always carved a peculiar swathe through their indie electro contemporaries. There’s an unnatural twist to their sound, a regular and subtle subversion of pop aesthetics, off kilter key changes and waves of melancholy undercutting hummable hooks. This, their first mix album, goes some way to explaining the disparate elements at play in Mount’s music. As such, it’s enlightening and bewildering in equal measures.
The mix opens with the syrup thick RnB haze of Outkast and Tweet, before collapsing into Sa-Ra Creative Partnership’s zonked out jazz funk. ‘Can I go to the cosmic ball’ asks a voice, and it seems Mount is determined to say yes, flinging on, to name but a few, Chik Corea’s contorted muzak, the clattering percussive ticks of Autechre, the bong fuelled space funk of Tonto’s Expanding Headband and the icky, twee francophone pop of Kate & Anne McGarrigle. ‘It’s a maze rather than a journey’ state the sleeve notes with surprisingly honest accuracy.
It may sound like a potential mess, but Joe Mount’s focused aesthetic pulls the various strands together. In some ways I feel like he’s made the perfect mix for a music critic—short on big obvious hits but big on obscure clever bits- I’ve certainly enjoyed listening to it. I’m guessing that a casual Metronomy fan looking for something akin to the sublime pop of The Look is going to be largely disappointed by this strange, cerebral journey. However approached with an open mind, and in the mood to deal with the occasionally widdling piece of madness, this is a fascinating and entertaining rummage round the band’s unique musical landscape. Worth a try.