Published May 07, 2018Spiritually, SMD have come a long way since 2007's floor-filling electro classic, Attack Decay Sustain Release. Murmurations — the duo's sixth studio album — showcases a more meaningful, altogether deeper sound.
The record is centered around the flight of starlings, and their experimentation with interference on tracks such as "A Perfect Swarm," and "Gliders," reflecting the hum of wings in formation.
Murmurations is the symphonic embodiment of the change in focus for their maturing fan base — the college students dropping acid in clubs have spent the intervening years travelling the world, "immersing themselves" in other cultures. And this new sound is what they now seek — world chill-out vibes tempered with a side order of trance-techno.
This feeling is particularly strong on tracks such as "V Formation" and "A Perfect Swarm" — but sometimes they're not getting the blend quite right, and the mood seems to build too swiftly from meditative layered voices to all-out techno. It is possible that diehard techno fans would see this as a suspense breakdown with a big pay-off, but the beauty of SMD has always been their ability to resist genre pigeonholes.
The collaboration with London's Deep Throat Choir does result in some hauntingly transcendent harmonies, building to a brooding crescendo on recently released single "Caught in a Wave." The stand-out track on the album is "Defender," which authentically harkens back to their dance floor roots. But overall, this is an album that blends choral and electronic to create something that amounts to little more than unobtrusive background music. It lacks both the cultural depth of world music and the dynamic disco beats of their earlier offerings. (Wichita)