Reviews

Bicep
Isles

(Ninja Tune)

8/10

In the years since their self-titled 2017 debut, Bicep have firmly established themselves as a touchpoint for contemporary electronic music. With ‘Aura’, ‘Opal’ and the poignantly nostalgic ‘Glue’ now anthemic staples in DJ sets and record collections, Isles affirms that essential status as another landmark release.

From the slow-burn magic of ‘Atlas’ to the Xanax beats of ‘Rever’, Bicep artfully find ways of channeling nagging, wistful emotions – ostensibly the antithesis of the club – into progressive, exhaling euphoria. It’s what makes ‘Apricots’ feel like a warm companion to ‘Glue’ with its misty memories of big nights and lost days, balances out hefty bass rumbles with more meditative melodies on ‘Sundial’, and pushes ‘Fir’ into a more cosmic take on Tarot Sport-era Fuck Buttons.

And while they continue to perfectly capture the spirit of raves and summers past, what makes Bicep so continually satisfying is not just their editor’s eye for trimming sonic fat, but also their ability to throw up something a little fresher, as they do on the bass-heavy futurism of ‘X’. With its serious synth drama and echoing vocal sweetness, it’s a demonstration of the pair’s immaculate production sensibility, as well as the skilful reimagination of the trance, techno and prog house foundations that typically power their sound.

Still, when you’ve perfected electronic melancholy as effortlessly as they have, you earn the right to bathe in its bittersweet beauty, and Isles is another masterclass in musing over moments you didn’t even know you’d missed.

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