So much good has come from one little song. Many moons ago, Simian - a totally OK electro indie band - were remixed by the then relatively unknown French duo Justico, who came up with piece of electronic pop gold in 2006’s “We Are Your Friends”. It became a staple of house, indie clubs and electro clubs alike.
From that, Justice grew into a two-headed dancefloor slaying machine with a live show second to none, while Simian’s James Ford flourished in his role as a go-to producer for major league acts such as Depeche Mode, Arctic Monkeys, Foals and Florence and the Machine, and alongside fellow Simian band mate Jas Shaw, became Simian Mobile Disco.
Over the course of six albums, SMD have transformed from the tried and tested ‘get some indie singers and make dance music’ of their impressive debut - 2007’s Attack Decay Sustain Release - and Temporary Pleasure two years later, to making brain-frying minimal techno with their best (and under represented here) album, 2010’s Delicacies, and Unpatterns two years later.
This compilation covers all those albums, alongside the strange ambient excursions on Whorl from 2014 and last year’s Welcome to Sideways. Initially lumped in with the ridiculously named and thankfully short lived 'blog house' scene, there are tracks here that do now sound very much of their time; "Tits and Acid" is the sound of at least ten Ed Banger or Kitsune compilations, and while the nagging riff of "Aspic" informed a part of the subsequent release schedule from techno major player Kompakt records - and despite still sounding great - it does suffer slightly from the ‘sounds we used to like’ syndrome.
But these are petty gripes, as this compilation is generously packed with killers. "Sleep Deprivation" is a lesson in progressive techno - starting minimal, ending maximal, going from liberal plink plonk to full on trance euphoria within its five minutes. "Synthesise" is intoxicating creeped out techno, the heavily reverbed vocals adding an extra layer of tension to a big room classic, while the old school hip hop styling of "Hustler" remains their greatest musical achievement, and one still capable of causing mayhem.
Showing their ability to flit around genres and still sound very much like SMD, "A Form of Change" is moody atmospheric house, the plink plonk of "10000 Horses Can’t be Wrong" is so drug-drenched immediate head rushes are induced, "Your Love Ain't Fair" takes soul samples and spikes them with lysergic energy, cutting the sample and changing the pitch to create some kind of creepy disco house, it's one of their career highlights, and "Cruel Intentions" - featuring a soulful vocal from Beth Ditto - is a kooky oddity with a riff which is now pretty much the staple of tropical house-influenced pop (although that’s certainly not something they’d want to be blamed for).
Although SMD may not get the kind of plaudits fellow big league electronic duos such as Justice or Daft Punk are used to, Anthology: 10 Years of SMD shows that they've consistently fed dancefloors worldwide with some brilliant electronic music.