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Review: 'ISLET'

-  Label: 'Fire Records'
-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: '6th March 2020'

Our Rating:
Islet are a Powys trio who describe themselves as "remote Welsh outsiders, studying life via a refracting telescope".

They write songs about the natural landscape and also cover themes of birth and death prompted by the arrival of Emma and Mark Daman Thomas’ second child and the passing of fellow band member Alex Williams’ mother. Emma says the opening tune, Caterpillar was written as “a song for my unborn child”.

Having previously released an album and EPs on their own Shape Records label this is the band's debut for Fire and their first full length release for seven years. It was produced Rob Jones.

Their swirling synth pop is dominated by the ethereal vocals of Emma Thomas and seems to take more than a few cues from the ghostly psychedelics of 'Broadcast'.

The seven minute multi-layered mini symphony of Geese is the record's centrepiece and is trailed by a self-consciously arty video. This song was apparently inspired by Raymond Williams’ novel 'People Of The Black Mountains' and the enduring physical presence of the hills and mountains of mid-Wales.

The threesome's unconventional approach is well illustrated in Radel 10, a shape-shifting song named after a tabla drum machine and featuring infectious rhythms and multi-tracked vocals. On this, the lyrics were partly inspired by 'The Good Immigrant', an anthology of essays on race and immigration by Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) writers.

The catchy pop-tones of Clouds are more straightforward with a level of directness sorely lacking in most of the other songs. This serves to suggest that while this album has much to recommend it, an even stronger record is buried within the overly mannered experimentalism.

Islet's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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ISLET - Eyelit