On April 26, Electric Sloth journeyed deep into the desert to see Simian Mobile Disco perform and record their newest album “Whorl.” Presented by FYF at Pioneertown’s famous saloon, Pappy & Harriets, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park, SMD was poised to make their album debut. With only one synth and sequencer each, the electronic duo made music history by being the first to record an album with such a simple yet complex system at a live event. It was an experience like no other, and everyone I spoke to afterwards had varied opinion on it. Of course if you’re going to throw an experimental electronica concert in the middle of the desert, the Burning Man crowd is bound to came out ready to party. I saw costumes and smiles from the moment that I walked in and it felt like a home away from home.


Earth opened up with their classic psych-rock style, and although their performance wasn’t bad, Carlson’s facial hair kept the audience’s attention more than the music did. The audience’s response didn’t surprise me considering they were playing slow progressive rock for a fast-paced electronica crowd, but I was still disappointed that so few people were vibing out to such a great band. Nonetheless, they did their job as they left the crowd open-minded and ready to experience something truly experimental.

No computers, no racks, no gear; it was nothing special, but it was all the more unique. Armed with only a synth and a sequencer each, Simian Mobile Disco came out with the purpose to deliver a performance unlike any other. Describing the “Whorl” experience is a challenge in itself. It was basically a stream of electronic expression that lasted about an hour and a half, never ceasing to catch me off-guard.  The bass and speakers sounded absolutely gorgeous, rattling the entire venue until the very last beat. Sometimes they were perfectly in sync; other times they weren’t. Whether or not their offbeat tempo was intended, the crowd certainly enjoyed the experience and kept grooving through the entire performance. It seemed almost as though they were trying to teach the audience a lesson through their music.


If I had to define it, I’d that they were trying to convey the message that experimentation is a learning experience that should be approached with an open mind to be truly enjoyed, but I’m not putting words in their mouths. All in all, I think everyone had a different opinion of the performance. Though everyone enjoyed it, each spectator perceived it differently. It was just so experimental that judging the show depended solely on your mindset going into it. Afterwards, I realized that “Whorl” had become its own genre over the course of the show and I had witnessed a true feat of music production. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you really had to be there to know what I mean. Though you can’t see Simian Mobile Disco record “Whorl” again, they’re still touring and you shouldn’t miss the chance to catch them at one of their next shows.


Simian Mobile Disco