Islet: Focus Wales Festival, Wrexham – live review
Wrexham Focus Wales Festival
“Islet are the enemies of boredom – their music morphs and moves constantly into new shapes” claims John Robb as he is enthralled by the thrilling rush of the Cardiff based underground heroes…
No man (and in this case..a woman) is an Islet…
Islet take this maxim to the extreme and spend half of this frenetic, enthralling and thrilling gig running into the crowd waving cowbells and percussion and causing a joyous mosh pit with their so called leftfield, underground music and energised performance.
Islet are the enemies of boredom- their music morphs and moves constantly into new shapes.
The Cardiff based band have created a cottage industry with their Shape records, fierce independent spirit and attitude to music making that is totally 2014 just like their music. In the afternoon I share a panel with the bands Mark Damon Thomas and he talks total sense about undergound music and culture- redefining the word ‘success’ and explains how to survive without kowtowing to anyone- it’s inspirational stuff and runs through the heart of the band’s creativity.
Islet don’t skulk around in the past and are fast forwarding into the future. They are arguably the moist interesting band active in the UK right now with a ground making music, a stunning energy and a commitment to take the difficult and the so called left field and make it a party music that stretches your mind and your legs at the same time.
Two albums in and and their highly original and stunning music that is so crammed with brilliant ideas and swerves in musical direction leaves you out of breathe following their zig zag wandering muse.
Somehow they combine the threads and entrails of free jazz and the boundary busting attitude of post punk and the endless adventure of world music and even the sweatshod rock n roll of the OC’s into the kind of music that makes the so called avant garde into a party an a celebration of action, time and vision.
Musically Islet are out there on their own- this is a high IQ music- a collective of four minds easily bored by the dull plod of most music as they cram in a million ideas into each song and somehow make this infectious instead of earnest riffing. In old school terms they have the scratch quirk of XTC, the manic colliding riffs of Dog Faced Hermans, the everyone playing lead at the same time of post punk but I doubt they even listen to any of that stuff.
One moment there is a spiralling keyboard and some stunning drumming and a moustachioed bass player slapping out bottom end riffs on his violin bass whilst Emma Daman delivers an operatic wail over the top, then the keyboard playing Mark Daman Thomas grabs a mic and disappears into the audience with his own vocal- it’s total chaos but with a sinewy and enthralling structure. The bass rumbles away, Emma takes over on the drum kit and creates her own swing and the band seethe and swirl into new climaxes.
The songs are a new psyche but also with the freedom of free jazz and the boundary busting sensibility of post punk and the energy of those long lost punk jazz crews- it’s also very much on its own. In a heavily over subscribed music scene Islet sound utterly original and utterly thrilling. They make the awkward and the difficult exciting and fun and make a room full of devotees and freak noise virgins dance with the same sweaty frenzy.
There is something great about a band that can do this.
Thrilling, enthralling and brilliantly original Islet are a must see celebration of all that’s brilliant about so called left field music.