For what is essentially a composite of three "live" performances (all produced on a deliberately limited set-up of two modular synths, two sequencers and a mixer), Whorl is surprisingly cohesive. A certain eclecticism is hard-wired into Simian Mobile Disco's DNA, but this exploration of the ground between krautrock and techno is clear in its direction. Or, at least, it is in Whorl's first half. Over the first five tracks, the album's progression and evolution from the Big-Bang kosmische of "Redshift" (all swirling cosmic gasses and primordial-swamp vibes) to the declarative riffs of "Dervish" (somewhere between Daniel Avery and Jon Hopkins, with synths like flares in a night sky) is smoothly handled, and with more colour in its detail than such well-worn tropes might suggest. "Hypnick Jerk," which fuses the pitch-bent pops and bloops of classic Rephlex with the kind of lissom bobbling bass and drums you might expect from Caribou, is Simian Mobile Disco at their irreverent, genre-splicing best.
Unfortunately, Whorl cannot sustain that brilliant momentum. "Z Space" is a breather after which the heavily lurching "Nazard" seems unable to find a way forward. The Italo-tinged "Calyx," the cinematic "Iron Henge" and the thundering, borderline camp techno of "Tangents" are all interesting, but the album never quite regains its sense of narrative arc, nor does it deliver anything as irresistibly brilliant as "Hypnick Jerk." Still, there is much to enjoy here. Simian Mobile Disco have proven to be much more than a temporary pleasure.