Icarus - Sylt
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Including their debut in 1998, the duo of Icarus has released six full-length albums, along with a couple 12"s and EPs along the way. They've also done remixes for Murcof, Four Tet, The Creatures, and several others. Their debut album Kamikaze (and even their second release Fijarka) found them flirting with drum and bass styles, although since those earlier releases they've moved further and further from traditional rhythms and structures, breaking their music down to scattered percussive shots that fly in from all angles while chewing up other elements and spitting them into often barely-comprehensible constructions.

That style continues on their seventh full-length album Sylt, the first for the Danish label Rump Recordings. The seven track, sixty-minute album is devised around two long improvisational pieces that the duo created in a live performance with accumulated unused elements that they'd gathered over the years. Other tracks (in a similar style) help fill in the album, but the bulk of it comes on those two long pieces (that clock in at just under twenty minutes apiece).

I missed hearing the last album from the group (Carnivalesque), but I'm familiar with Ollie Brown and Sam Britton from both their early work and their Six Soviet Misfits collection and I Tweet The Birdy Electric. If you've heard either of those two previous works, you know what to expect here, although it's obvious they've refined their sound some (mainly in the use of sound sources that they use). "Keet" kicks things off and broken bits of guitar fret noise shiver and shake while held notes ring out underneath as chimes and flickering percussion swarm everywhere, coalescing about halfway through for a nice section before again falling apart. Other shorter tracks on the release (like "Selfautoparent," "Jyske" and "Rugkiks") don't work nearly as well, spluttering out this same sort of micro-sampled drill and bass deconstruction, but in largely freeform ways that don't really add up to much once you've heard the routine.

"First Inf(E)Rænce" and "Second Inf(E)Rænce" are the two long improv tracks and they're both spotty in terms of quality (as one might expect from long, freeform glitch electronic workouts). The former locks into a freaky sub-bass and drone section about halfway through that's lovely, before veering right back into the shattered kitchen-utensil percussion of usual, while the latter utilizes everything from warm piano to what sounds like balloon squeaks in a bizarre funhouse track that works better than most. The biggest problem with Sylt is that if unless you're a complete newcomer to Icarus (and possibly even if you aren't), you'll be familiar with this sort of massively deconstructed electronics. I applaud them for including more organic instrumentation (like clarinet, piano, etc), but the end result is simply too close to the same.

rating: 610
Aaron Coleman 2007-11-08 19:52:51