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"Released By The Movement"

Islet – Released By The Movement
18 October 2013, 12:30 Written by Michael Palmer

Islet are a band that seem to thrive on chaos. After forming in Cardiff in 2009, and forgoing the usual blogs / Facebook / MySpace / Twitter / Bandcamp / Soundcloud etc. internet presence, they started making a name for themselves based on good old-fashioned word of mouth. Building a reputation based on their live shows where band members would swap instruments and create songs from jams, they released their debut album in January 2012 and, now, their second: Released By The Movement.

We open with “Triangulation Station”, and for nearly three minutes it’s a rather confusing mess. Guitars and keyboards pulse while two incoherent vocal parts take turns to jolt the mood in two different directions. There are interesting instrumental touches in there, but they are smothered by a vocal melody that is rather distracting and borders on silly. It calls to mind those distorting mirrors you see at fairgrounds; at first it’s fascinating, but it doesn’t take long before it feels rather contrived, being weird just for the sake of being weird. After two minutes and forty-nine seconds though, all of a sudden the song locks in. The band find a groove, the melody starts to enhance the song instead of derailing it.

This is a pattern that continues throughout the record. The album is a buffet table of interesting ideas, though very few are built upon or followed through. The album was recorded in practice spaces, without a producer or any outside input. As a result, the songs feel unfinished. One idea meanders into the next. That’s not to say that the ideas themselves are not good, or not worth exploring. It just means that the record sounds like some exciting demos that, with a bit of work, could eventually be turned into a really good album.

For an example of what Islet are capable of when they find a good idea and see it to its natural conclusion, see the album’s highlight and lead single “Carlos”. It has a distinct groove unlike any other song on the record, without sounding out of place. Led by strummed guitar chords that, apart from a touch of delay, are left relatively clean, it’s a guitar sound that Frank Black would be proud of. The subtle drum flourishes follow the spellbinding bassline all the way to the stuttering, syncopated chorus. It manages to sound both joyous and brooding at the same time.

As Released By The Movement shows, Islet are a band still figuring themselves out. They still don’t seem sure about where exactly they want to go. When they do decide though, when they can direct their array of ideas into a singular, focused vision, they will make a great album. There is a great album in this band. To get there they just need to find the order in the chaos.

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