mon 01/03/2021

Album: Bicep - Isles | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Bicep - Isles

Album: Bicep - Isles

Dance music to raise lockdown spirits

Bicep's second album fufills the promise of the first, released in 2017 to wide acclaim.

Bicep's second album fufills the promise of the first, released in 2017 to wide acclaim. Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar, friends since childhood from the city of Belfast, draw inspiration from Chicago house, Detroit techno, Italo disco and other now vintage dance genres. They appeal as much to a younger generation for whom their heady mix of dancefloor styles feels fresh and new, as to an older crowd for whom the duo serve up quality nostalgia.

Made over two years and the result of a trawl through 150 demos, "Isles" reflects the impact of Bicep's move to London and exposure to music from all over the world. They have an appetite for new sounds: "Sundial" features the echo-laden distant sound of Hindi vocals and "Rever" exploits the mystery of Bulgarian full-throated voices - on both cases subtly rather than too obviously global. While the sounds are dominated by synths and percussion, Ferguson and McBriar use voices to add a human dimension to their infectious beats, from the sensuous vocals of Clara Le San on "Saku" to the more robotic and electronically tweaked angelic choir  of "Fir".

While this is music that will work wonders in clubs and festivals - let's hope we dance again before we get too old! - the sounds here have been tailored for home listening, with fine detailing that bears repeated listening, as on "Hawk", with its intricate interlacing of textures and rhythms. As any good producer knows, the harmonics that can be coaxed out of electronic equipment have a quality that messes with the listener's mind: the science of mind-bending at the core of so much non-Western music works with the indeterminancy to great effect. There is plenty of that here, notably on "Fir" and the closing track "Hawk".

The album is graced with variety, each track with a character of its own. There are plenty of superfeelgood moments, when the music alone produces a growing sense of unfolding bliss, that some would call ecstasy. Climaxes that gently build, through the power of trance-inducing repetition and the smiling sound of harmonising synths. There may be no parties for a while but Bicep can sure make you dance, in your imagination or on the kitchen floor - and hopefully soon in the company of a mass of fellow revellers and celebrants of the joyfully shared moment.

The harmonics that can be coaxed out of electronic equipment have a quality that messes with the listener's mind

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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