Capturing the crazy is not an easy task. Just ask Islet: the group are perhaps one of the strangest live acts around, their bizarre blend of psychedelic sounds and tropical outbursts create something quite disturbing on stage. The members of the band have a habit of jumping into the crowd and playing audience members like drums, which is a bit strange too, I guess.
The group have had a few unsuccessful attempts at documenting the madness. Their last effort, Illuminated People, captured the music but not the spirit. Everything just seemed a little tame, a little watered down, a little ordinary. Because of this Released by the Movement, their second LP, feels crucial, not exactly make or break, but getting that way.
The record starts well, very well. ‘Triangulation Station’ is as freaky as you like. If I was gonna give it a score on the weird scale it would be a resounding 10.38 out of 10. Mark Thomas’s (not that one) nursery rhyme vocals wrap themselves around some serious oddball grooves whilst Emma Daman Thomas injects a bit of energy with her psychotic yelps. It’s like a theme tune to a particularly sinister CBeebies show.
Unfortunately the strangeness stops there. It pops in every now and again, but not for long enough for you to really appreciate it. It’s almost like the record is teasing us about what could have been. ‘Sails Billow And Swell’ and ‘Tripping Through the Blue Room (Part I)’ show just how oddly groovy the band can be, but they never take it far enough, we’re never transported to the other side, the side populated by the real nuts, the side The Residents can take you to with the click of one deranged finger.
Apart from these brief flirtations Islet come across as the sort of band you’d see splashed across the pages of Artrocker in 2006 - you know the ones, with all the haircuts and cardigans and songs with weird, half jokey titles. ‘Citrus Peel’ encapsulates this completely, it’s a bit floaty, and it sounds like about five songs mashed into one, but it’s just lacking that edge. It plods rather than spins, and when you specialise in psychedelia, spinning is key, everyone needs to feel dizzy.
‘Mirror Me’ is like music for a castle hall, what with the organ stabs and all that, and whilst a medieval themed Islet song should sound completely fucked up, it ends up just being pleasant, like the type of faceless indie that soundtracks football highlights nowadays.
Released by the Movement proves once and for all that Islet need to ditch this façade of normality and just go bat-shit crazy. And if they still don’t know how to bottle the madness in the studio, they should record a live album, or a concert film, anything. Come back a weirder next time guys, you won’t regret it.
5Jack Doherty's Score