‘Illuminated People’ brings together the many diverse licks, tones and shades of sound that Islet have crafted and familiarised themselves with in their first two years of active existence and distributes it across a much more stable and uniform, debut full-length record. The extra room and space means that the ‘secondary’ tracks on the album, far from being filler, reveal glimmers of a more tender and mellowed ambience; it is an altogether more considered record, and a valuable extension to the band’s vibrant repertoire.
Their music has always been an orchestration of various pulling forces, of sharp and antagonistic sounds that are brutish, explicit and stark. ‘Illuminated People’ delivers this in a much more rounded but still very cathartic and theatrical manner. The female vocalist (Whose name is characteristically elusive from any amount of tireless search engine trawling) delicately sings of ‘a life of scrimmage and strife, a tiresome fight, a challenge of might’ in ‘A Warrior Who Longs to Grow Herbs’. This sense of solemn despair is something that takes a more overarching presence in the album and adds a new dimension and level of depth to the band’s sound.
The opening track ‘Libra Man’ demonstrates early on that Islet have retained the integration of very self-consciously artificial and synthesised electronic sounds with delicate and organic vocal harmonies, a fusion that has formed the basis of their unique appeal. ‘We Bow’ is one of the more noticeably melancholic tracks on the record, and with this possesses a more minimalist and conventional approach to instrumentation, certainly compared to what you might usually expect from their work. However, the pace and intonation of the prosaic address, with its listing effect, isn’t something quite so new, even if its mellow and reflective aesthetic is.
Perhaps the most contentious area of discussion is whether fans of the band will feel that in appropriating their sound for a longer length record, Islet have overlooked the sharpness and brutality of their appeal, and made this album far too comfortable to bear the same impression on its audience as previous work. All in all though, the songs are still constructed with a fragmented feel; it is still haphazard, alienating, and intriguing all in the same measure. With this, Islet have, in my humble opinion, done a rather good job at expanding and broadening their musical landscape to something that is more considered, more precise, and in many ways, more thought provoking.
‘Illuminated People’ will be released on Monday 23rd January, on Shape Records.