Sounds on the Ground #23: Islet

27 Nov 2009

this is a band whose recent rise to the public psyche has been catalysed by their efforts to stay out of the spotlight...”

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Whats the Deal?

Frankly. I’m not too sure. And even if I was, I don’t know if I should tell you. Because Islet are a band that in all possible ways evade description. This is primarily because the instrumental post-rock wig-out/Steve Reich drum-duo breakdown/rhythmic shouty noisy…..ness of this band is so far stretched, pulled and refracted that it would be nigh on impossible to figuratively stuff it into any generically labelled jar. And secondly because, well, they don’t want me to try. This is a band whose recent rise to the public psyche has been catalysed by their efforts to stay out of the spotlight. In a complete rebellion against the glutinous glut of MySpace/ Facebook/Twitter toting, over-marketed kiddies, Islet took a step back and made the mature decision that the best thing to do in these situations is to simply keep schtum. And schtum they did. If you think I’m being obtuse, just try it yourself, type Islet into google and you’ll find nothing of the ordinary sort. No Myspace. No Facebook. No band site. No PR Company. Nowt. Well, almost nowt - there is a little site there listed as This is Islet, which is a site made by a couple of guys who, in love with the band’s music and amazed by the lack of content, put one together themselves.

Even though the band choose to keep things on the looooow-down, their music and live performances have a core of self-aware theatricality about them. That’s not to say that they don’t really mean everything they do, but that they seem to be inherently aware of the ridiculousness of taking things all too seriously. Like all the best bands, these guys make their own little-large world out of their music, blasting a crater in the terra firma just big enough for their bodies and their imaginations to spark and collide within.

On stage, the group are a blur of kinetic energy, swapping instruments, hitting a drum here, looking more like some mental instrumental Ganesh than a group of individuals making music. One recent gaggle of gig-goers watched in awe and confusion as three of the band gathered around the same drumkit, while the fellow sat atthe kit plays a keyboard to his left.

Sometimes they stand and sing into microphones like any run-of-the-mill musician would do, but more often they meander around, off into the audience, behind the drum-kit, off to the loo, all the while singing/shouting/muttering with no real regard for conventionality or ‘rock’ aesthetic. Thank Goodness. Pure. Bloody. Genius.

Oh, and BBC radio legend Huw Stephens is a fan, having DJ’d at one of their last gigs. Sold.

 What can I hear?

In actuality, retaining a low profile on the web is a remarkably difficult thing to do. You can try and try and try to keep your big fat noisome head buried in the analogue sand, but someone will always be there, binary spade in hand, struggling to dig you back out.

Although the band have stayed stoically away from recording any studio material, they have played a session for BBC introducing, which can be found on their lo-fi, fan managed and created, fansite Thisisislet. Similarly, thanks to the advent of mobile phone cameras and a generation of people who prefer to have all their sensory experience routed through screens, there are a spattering of recorded live performances on YouTube, you can meet the chaps/chappess in a nice little interview here.

Where can I see them?

The band will be playing a gig on the 28th of November at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch, London. If you can’t make it down, then you’re just going to have to make do with a bit of live theatrics in the video below. Annnnnnd... check back asap to our upcoming Rockfeedback gigs section as we shall be welcoming the band down for a Rockfeedback show in the early months of 2010. Be THERE.

 


We all know music peaked in 1994, so give me a sound-bite about how we could compare them to some kind of obscure band from the Britpop era:  Islet are like Ash. Because they both have a female bassist. I’m sorry. This is such a ridiculous way to end an article.

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