Bicep // Isles (Ninja Tune)


date: 2020-01-22
catalog: ZENDNL261
genre: orbital + four tet pastiche

01. Atlas
02. Cazenove
03. Apricots
04. Saku (feat. Clara La San)
05. Lido
06. X (feat. Clara La San)
07. Rever (feat. Julia Kent)
08. Sundial
09. Fir
10. Hawk (feat. Machìna)


i think the fact that no one has made a thread in this forum in the 9 months of promo and 4 singles leading up to this album and im the one who had to make one 5 days after it comes out says most of it rlly. this is better then the s/t for sure but i still overall feel the same: “eh, its cute i guess.” pure retromania, too perfect, too nice, pristinely produced and highly respectable to its source inspirations, but both to its own detriment. wants to be both festival and bedroom sized and ends up just being an abandoned rec hall. (“atlas” and “saku” are the only two songs somewhat memberable here.)

nothing bad i have to say about those two blokes myself, and hearing that covid fucked up their plans for this album being rougher and tougher def bummed me out, but if this is the “home listening version” of isles we are hearing rn, then i honestly could have wished they just didnt give a fuck and put out the harder version they are saving for their live shows that probs wont be happening for probs another year, at best.


ok actually listening to it again the second half does pick up a bit more, but goddamn does it take a while! and hearing the burial-esque drums with big above & beyond trance synths rlly peeves me in a weird way! still overall too cheesy and generic for me

and im listening to this new mix they just did for mixmag right now, and holy shit dude if this is somewhat like isles sounded like originally … damn wtf


hahaha!! this cracked me up.

Thanks for making a topic. honestly haven’t listened to isles yet but I know what to expect. with the first LP i had friends that weren’t really even clued into electronic music and said that the album was just too homogeneous. I get why some people don’t like it.

However I really back these guys REALLY doubling down on this kinda music and going in their own direction. Honestly it is a pretty distinctive sound. It’s not quite Four Tet, it’s a little less (i apologize for all of these adjectives in advance) tropical/afro/ethnic/earthy/jangly or whatever the heck Tet sounds like. It’s also, thank fuck, not a bunch of huge UK rave breakbeat slammer hackney parrot re-dos. The tracks sound like rave-indebted music but with very few of the played out signifiers.

I also think they could have went in a bunch of directions, many of them way more boring than this. From their first essential mix they almost could have turned into a New Jersey house cover band, and their early singles were pretty damn close to Omar S records. I am glad they are in this territory of their own creation (soaring, barely club adjacent breakbeat) rather than just being dancefloor genre technicians or historians or whatever.

Both LP’s also completely dodge the issues with the “dance music LP”. no overlong songs, no crazy genre left turns for novelty, no stuff that feels like “just noodling aimlessly with sounds in my studio” ambient filler or whatever. The albums feel pretty concise to me.

lastly, fuck flangers on the drum track. ruins every song its on. puts every song squarely in the like late 1999 hooj choons bucket and not in a good way.


i think its ok for me. i honestly don’t think it would get the same hype if it wasn’t done in the uk and released in ninja tune

also personally speaking, i think ninja tune has been slacking with the releases lately. haven’t been amazed by something from them in a while


I finally got around to listening to it the other day and wasn’t totally grabbed by it tbh. Am going to do a second spin soon though as I have the feeling it’ll click after a few listens. Production is super nice but.