Monday, October 04, 2010

Islet / Ace Bushy Striptease / This Is Sinister @ The Flapper, Saturday 2nd October

After last night’s goth fest with O. Children this was another much anticipated gig thanks to the presence of the frankly genre defying Islet (pictured above...three of 'em anyway).

Kicking off proceedings though it’s This Is Sinister. It took me a couple of tracks to get into them. There’s a kind of a psych math rock alt country thing going on. Hmmmm... maybe they should be called ‘This Is Puzzling’. I’m not sure how long they’ve been going but I got the sense that perhaps they’re still developing the sound of the band too. That’s not to say that they weren’t accomplished. In fact listening to each one of them in isolation (I can do that you know...I’m, like a bat) they’re clearly all pretty good musicians. And when it all gelled it came together well too, like on one of the standout tracks of the set, Caliba (a rocking number with shades off At The Drive In). I’ve seen bands at this sort of stage before, with plenty of ambition and a real willingness to experiment, and they can go on to do great things. One’s to watch.

Next up Ace Bushy Striptease. I want to cuddle up under a duvet with this lot. On a wet Saturday afternoon. Listening to Winnie the Pooh stories and eating choccie fudge cake. Sure they’re a little twee in places but godammit they’re sweet as hell and make the kind of pure unadulterated indiepop that warms the cockles of yer heart. Great band name too. It sounds like a kind of squirrel lap dancing club. Do squirrels have laps? I suppose they do. Not sure if the whole stripping things means much to them though, seeing as how they’re all in the buff anyway. They’d be dead good at pole dancing though. It’s the tails you know. Come to think of it those tails would make pretty good boas too for that authentic burlesque feel. Er...anyway...back to the band, bits go wrong, bits go right, some bits are in tune, some aren’t, but you know what, it don’t matter. Some bands are just a joy to watch and ABS have that easy going charm nailed. Musically there’s plenty of the twee stuff, but from time to time they go proper shouty. It’s a little like a teddy bear with a flick knife. Cute and cuddly one second, then scaring the bejesus out of you the next. Full marks for calling one of their tunes ‘Enter Soundman’ (think about it) and kudos for the 60’s garage meets 80’s indie-ness of Pain In The Aga...all in 1 minute and 2 seconds (approximately).

Finally it’s musical savants Islet (pronounced eyelet...just so you know) , a four piece Cardiff combo who haven’t just ripped up the rule book but soaked it in glue, mashed it to a pulp and made a rather fetching hat out of it. They yell, they bash, they wail. They frequently break into a tune but then they’re soon back like cracked up toddlers beating the merry hell out of their instruments and plunging into the audience on occasional forays. It’s great. Pre punk, post punk, punk, art rock, tribal, electro, can try to pin any of these labels on them but they’d probably just get ripped off in the melee. Take set highlight ‘We Shall Visit’ for example. Moving wildly through different time structures and embracing everything from Kraftwerk to Burundi drumming it somehow manages to avoid sounding like Jive Bunny on acid. Sweet. If the musical arrangements are mind boggling then the visual show’s just as mixed up. Rejecting the conventional arrangement of one band member per instrument (how boring eh?) they all seem to rotate and play everything, so the line up and dynamic changes with each number. It’s a neat trick if you can pull it off. The drummer play keyboards, the guitarist drums, the singer bangs one point he even started ‘playing’ the venue itself...hitting bits of it with some drumsticks to create his own sound. It’s the future I tells ya. Off stage the band’s doing its own thing too with the random publication of the Isness...a lo fi art flyer billed rather grandly as their “visual display / communication device”. Naturally their physical releases so far seem to be on vinyl too (hurrah!) and you can get your paws on all this stuff at their appropriately minimalist website. If music be the food of love Islet’s an all you can eat buffet. Get stuck in.

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