Islet’s is a very particular, deceptive form of chaos. Much has been written on this site about their exultant, inclusive live set; it’s the sort of you-had-to-be-there intensity and sweaty fun that makes people muse at length on whether it can be captured on record. Vivers noted the futility of “attempting to bottle lightning” in his Celebrate This Place review; Islet’s second mini-album in four months demonstrates that it’s not even necessary to try. The short-format releases are perfect for the band at this stage; enough room to stretch out and develop ideas without needing to curtail any tendency towards drawn-out, spacey jamming, yet concise enough not to frighten off the casual listener. CTP and Wimmy, though, offer by stealth nearly an hour of music, a more than generous album’s worth, and you can bet most of those who gamble on one will end up with both.
Wimmy is perhaps more low-key than CTP, at least at first, as if side 2 of that would-be album. ‘Powys’ wrong-foots the listener with bracing FX-as-percussion interference, playing the noise as another instrument like Black Dice or We Were Wrong era Liars. You’re soon on familiar ground, though, a delirious four-way percussive attack and unsettling vocal declamations giving way to unhinged chants reminiscent of ‘Iris’ from the first EP. ‘Ringerz’ is the “hit”, if Islet do “hits”, a teasing, drawn-out Les Savy Fav intro building up through hollered verses before pulling the rug from under your feet with a sweet, rockers’ dub-paced chorus. This is the giddy beauty of Islet on record at its most overt, freeform percussive sections alternating with echoey, almost MIA vocals. It’s utterly infectious, and along with the irresistable Afrobeat stew of ‘Living In Manila’, all spidery basslines, fizzing noise, wordless chanting and dubby FX farts, it’s Wimmy‘s high-water mark. ‘Horses and Dogs’ is its centrepiece though, the mantra-like refrain of “Got me with my boys boys boys boys” a highlight of recent sets. More dub slackness and rattling percussion, building and easing back – these are common Islet tropes but effective every time, and if the skeletal structures on Wimmy sound like an unlearning of how their old bands wrote it’s not regression; they’re better for it.
Where Wimmy does build on noticeably from CTS, rather than sounding like the second half of one epic recording session, is in two tracks where they sound, for the first time, like a genuinely different band. ‘Dust Of Ages’ carries an air of Lynchian unease, Emma and JT cooing over tippy-tappy percussion with an almost This Mortal Coil glacial cool. Quasi-religious incantations glide over reverberating chords from Broadcast’s 1970s dreamworld. ‘Obtaining’, meanwhile, is as low-key an ending as ‘Powys’ is an opener, a swinging, see-saw rhythm and strident drumming emerging into bluesy guitar and vocals murmuring unspecific unease into your ear like Ade out of Clinic. This is the stuff of Proper Bands, not the sort of formless, drum-circle posing that other bands of their ilk can fall into. Those bands don’t do it with this sure-footed touch and measured quality, though. That’s the reason Islet on record are every bit as exciting as Islet the live turn; seriously good musicians playing with purpose, confidence and sheer polyrhythmic dancefloor joy. Shall we say another one in three months’ time, then?
Islet play Sŵn 2010 this Saturday 23rd from 11.15pm-12.15am, upstairs at the Model Inn. Get there early.