Islet - Illuminated People

An album that is packed full of unusual and excellent ideas.


To ever say Islet have produced a piece of work that you might have hoped or expected of them would be pretty unfair. They’re a band that keep listeners ever-guessing through their explosive, instrument-swapping live shows, their evolving, experimental sound, and even their distant, slightly elusive presence. Though that’s true, and while Islet are far from a predictable bunch, debut album ‘Illuminated People’ is everything anyone who has experienced the Cardiff four-piece could have ever hoped or asked for.

Straight from the off on their debut full-length Islet pull no punches. ‘Libra Man’ opens the record with a blistering attack of noise – harsh, wobbling synth sounds lay atop Emma’s (one of three vocalists on this record) delicate, harmonised choral calls before a raw drum sound takes over, signalling the start of the song proper. From then in it bounces between one big, unusual sound to the next and back again, but never comes across obnoxious or boastful – ‘Libra Man’ is wholly gripping and very clever. And at over nine minutes long, it immediately demonstrates Islet’s intention of paying no notice to any musical ‘norms’, a trend which continues on this record throughout.

To describe Islet’s sound is a tough task. Just when you think you have your head around it, they change gear and speed off into the distance – leaving you chasing, enthusiastically and excitedly. And to try lump them in with a genre would be bluntly offensive. While there are elements of Animal Collective, Gang Gang Dance and HEALTH here, as well as a likely appreciation of the kraut movement, the group offer something far more than an amalgamation of influences. What’s clear on their debut record is that they’re a band creating something big, ambitious, and special.

As well as being their first full-length release, ‘Illuminated People’ is also the first time that they’ve worked with an outside producer. With this carried the slight risk that the edge could be taken off of their raw sound – but it’s the opposite that is true. The album is the closest that they’ve got to capturing their energetic, effervescent and explosive live shows on tape which, for anyone who has witnessed them live will know, is no mean feat.

Fluctuating from loud, obnoxious and in-your-face to beautifully delicate and gentle, ‘Illuminated People’ is an album that is packed full of unusual and excellent ideas with interesting and intelligent songs structures - and, enjoyably, it sounds very much ‘Islet’.

More like this

Place Your Bets: Sports Team

Place Your Bets: Sports Team

Against all odds, Sports Team have gone from a word-of-mouth novelty to genuine contenders. Now, with debut ‘Deep Down Happy’, they’re aiming for the gold medal.