Some records are just bloody odd. You listen to them for the first time and its possible to ascertain that something ace is happening, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it. You play it again and realise it did actually do all those peculiar things you sort of remember. And while they might not be the records you reach for when you want something dependable, they are curiously, brilliantly addictive. It was ever thus with Islet, shape-shifting Welsh psychedelic-indie peddlers and all round sonic wizards.
Woozily untamed from the off, their second album retains the fearless ambition of last year’s debut, ‘Illuminated People’. Recorded on the hoof around Cardiff with Sweet Baboo, the nine tracks found herein seem to expand like gasses, mutating unexpectedly and fascinatingly. The band’s instruments are passed around as best befits each song, resulting in a beguiling swirl of sound. ‘Elastic’, with its ‘Ian Curtis fronting Tindersticks’ shtick, flings a deliciously gothic shroud over things, while ‘Triangulation Station’ fizzes and rumbles like the band’s mesmeric stage shows. The wilful distortion or burying of vocals only adds to the slightly disorienting air on this restlessly excellent record.
At times, this evokes the effortless ambition of ‘Sandinista!’ as songs seem to tune in and out of melodies, dubby guitar licks reverberate and all manner of percussion explodes. ‘Carlos’ is a track I don’t imagine I’ll ever grow tired of, revealing something new every single time it’s played. It’s like four songs in one, and the pitched down chorus vocals are mildly disconcerting played through headphones of an evening. It seems simultaneously ragged and meticulous, effortless and finely honed. Album midpoint ‘Tripping Through The Blue Room’, scythed into two parts, is a woozy, memorably meandering instrumental section, cleansing the aural palette ahead of the deliciously off-kilter ‘Citrus Peel’. Closer ‘Rip Bark’ sounds like it’s falling over itself and provides a fittingly abrupt end to an album which feels like a snapshot of a band only beginning a potentially thrilling journey. As the last chord hangs in the air and the final cymbal brush fades away, the only thing to do is put it straight back on again.