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"Clash: 9/10 Album Review 'Released By The Movement'"

Woozily untamed from the off, Islet’s second album retains the fearless ambition of 2012’s debut, ‘Illuminated People’.

Recorded on the hoof around Cardiff with Sweet Baboo, the nine tracks found herein seem to expand like gasses, mutating unexpectedly and brilliantly.

The band’s instruments are passed around as best befits each song, resulting in a beguiling swirl of sound. ‘Elastic’, with its Ian-Curtis-fronting-Tindersticks shtick, flings a deliciously gothic shroud over things, while ‘Triangulation Station’ fizzes and rumbles like the band’s mesmeric stage shows.

The wilful distortion or burying of vocals only adds to the slightly disorienting air on this restlessly excellent record.

- Clash Magazine

"Clash: 9/10 Album Review 'Released By The Movement'"

Woozily untamed from the off, Islet’s second album retains the fearless ambition of 2012’s debut, ‘Illuminated People’.

Recorded on the hoof around Cardiff with Sweet Baboo, the nine tracks found herein seem to expand like gasses, mutating unexpectedly and brilliantly.

The band’s instruments are passed around as best befits each song, resulting in a beguiling swirl of sound. ‘Elastic’, with its Ian-Curtis-fronting-Tindersticks shtick, flings a deliciously gothic shroud over things, while ‘Triangulation Station’ fizzes and rumbles like the band’s mesmeric stage shows.

The wilful distortion or burying of vocals only adds to the slightly disorienting air on this restlessly excellent record.

- Clash Magazine

"GoldFlakePaint: Triangulation Station"

Latest single from Islet, ‘Triangulation Station’, from upcoming album Released By The Movement, is almost-six-minutes of loaded post-punk guitar loops, near-infinite vocal layering, and wondrous Welsh psychedelic pop euphoria. The track, recorded by Stephen Black (AKA Sweet Baboo), will be released on band member Mark Thomas’s own Shape Records label, on limited 12” vinyl and download. The adventurous single will come with with three additional exclusive tracks: new Islet track ‘Inlet’, a woozy drone remix of ‘Triangulation Station’ by Welsh musician/producer R. Seiliog and Islet’s remix of I Chi by the Danish band Pinkunoizu. What a kaleidoscopic four-track treat indeed.

But now for the nitty-gritty of ‘Triangulation Station’; this single supplies us with constant surprises throughout, and can only be described as an unpredictable, other-worldly medley of noisy, synth-laden vividness. Characteristically, the Cardiff quartet have not played it safe, and this bold and exploratory single, with its influx of pulsing drums, unobtrusive guitar-based melodies and intrepid vocal stylings, perfectly embodies this. The vocals on this track, and more significantly the focused drone of singer Mark Thomas, who croons uniquely idiosyncratic lines such as ‘there’s horses on their tale, horses on their tale, horses on their tale, but they’re wild wild wild,’ are truly the twisted focal point of the single. The chorus, which sees the synchronization of Mark Thomas and Emma Daman, advertises the heart of the song as a revival of the natural, and furthermore, shows through both its lyricism and its boundary-breaking musicality, Islet’s distinctive foundation of DIY ethics and ideology.

So sit back, relax, and be prepared to fall into an Islet induced musical coma. You know, the good kind, full of hallucination and motley exaltation. - GoldFlakePaint

"The Line Of Best Fit: Triangulation Station"

Cardiff experimental quartet Islet return to show the current crop of psych acts how it’s done.

The first cut from their second full-length LP, Released By The Movement, ‘Triangulation Station’ lashes splintered cymbal ticks and venerable synth organ trills together; creating a sticky compound that simply refuses to be digested. No complaints from us. Despite its unruly structure – and we use that word in the loosest sense – the whole track is swaddled in wisps of endearingly proggy dreaminess. From the repetitive drum cycles and madcap synth sequences to Mark’s wiry loudhailer vox careering into Emma’s equally distorted but distinctly sweetened chirping; it’s sticky as hell but somehow it all works.

Chuck in some spectral gospel choir-aping background harmonies and you’re left with a genuinely quite demented but nonetheless brilliant soiree through the murky marshes of psychedelia old, and new. - The Line Of Best Fit

"The 405: Tripping Through The Blue Room (Part II)"

Whilst the world waits for Islet to drop the follow-up to their 2012 debut Illuminated People, the band has been busy sharing new tracks from the forthcoming LP.

Today Islet dropped an exclusive track over at NME. Titled 'Tripping Through The Blue Room (Part II)', the song is an experimental as the title suggests - blending their psych elements with gorgeous ambient textures and vocal washes. It's a dark, beautiful listen. - The 405

"Pitchfork: 'Triangulation Station'"

There's a psych revival of sorts going on in Britain at the moment, and for the most part, it's been everything you'd expect: loons in loons, dishevelled boys with curly hair contorted into Syd Barrett's famed sofa pose, dweebs in paisley proclaiming themselves frontrunners of some incomprehensible, idiotic movement they're calling the "Psychedelic Defence League". (Honestly, you're better off out of it.) So the return of south Wales' utterly wild, cosmic, nature-attuned four-piece Islet is enormously welcome news: They've a new album out this fall, titled Released By the Movement, from which "Triangulation Station" (recorded by their onetime Shape labelmate, Sweet Baboo) is the first single.
It's softly, sweetly mad, the band joining in a warped falsetto chorus apparently sung from the warm swamp of a luscious tropical island only accessible by opening your third eye, as Emma Daman and Mark Thomas caw about getting back to nature, and opting out of the rat race. They've tagged the song "adventurous" on Soundcloud, and they're not wrong-- not only does the five-and-a-half-minute track swarm through shimmying, raucous passages that sound halfway like Prince Rama having a seance with Gang Gang Dance, they've also danced right through the boundaries of their already-unhinged, euphoric, wonderful sound.
- Pitchfork

"Pitchfork: Inlet"

On the b-side to their forthcoming single, "Triangulation Station", Islet go somewhere darker and stranger than they ever have before, which is quite a feat considering the band at hand. True to their desire to "play the room" (most Islet gigs see the walls and crowd repurposed as instruments) there's a tactile atmosphere to "Inlet" that sounds as if it was made inside a cave: a stony rhythmic splash throughout, dank, pooling, droning guitars, and Emma Daman's voice shrouded in echoes as she calls for curiosity and playfulness: "Without action, the old shit will grow." It's probably the most restrained thing the Welsh four-piece have ever done; the tide's out in the run-up to their eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2012's Illuminated People. - Pitchfork

"NME: Triangulation Station"

Lay back and relax in the bosom of its bulbous cloud of psychedelic dreaminess. - NME

"Clash: Tripping Through The Blue Room (Part II)"

A DIY success story, Islet are a strange, beguiling phenomenon... Seemingly emblematic of the direction explored on the album as a whole, Islet veering away from direction communication, swapping words for pure sound. - Clash

"NME: 10 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week"

Islet’s last album, 2012’s ‘Illuminated People’ was hyperactive enough to provoke extreme bogling. The first single from its follow-up, ‘Tripping Through The Blue Room (Part II)’, is much more static – a dank psychedelic creep towards a twisted lullaby that makes your surroundings seem unfamiliar. - NME

"Clash: Islet - 'Illuminated People' review"


Islet don’t play by the rules. At all. ‘Libra Man’, the opening track on this genre-leaping debut album, is a seething nine-minute mix of snagged rhythms, disjointed vocal chants and guitar psychedelia. It shouldn’t work, but it does; the genius of Islet is their ability to splice a myriad of ideas into a thrilling headfuck of an aural joyride. The rampant ‘This Fortune’ and snarling ‘Filia’ capture the energy of their live show, while the eerie lullaby of ‘We Bow’ showcases the Cardiff collective’s nascent beauty. Staunchly DIY, Islet’s modus operandi has created a wilfully unique sound - ‘Illuminated People’ is a shining triumph.

by John Freeman - Clash

"The Line Of Best Fit: Islet - 'Illuminated People' review"

Retro fashions and sample-culture, tribute acts and cover albums – with music in the 21st century pretty much everybody sounds like somebody else. Whether a band is slipping into another genre for “crossover appeal” or “borrowing” a style to develop their sound, it’s a rare album that doesn’t come encumbered with a press release breathlessly citing more reference points than there are words.

Islet, though – they’re different. Somehow, despite a list of influences that probably runs into the hundreds, they don’t sound like anybody else. Tool, Youthmovies, Massive Attack and Portishead, Battles, Muse, System Of A Down, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Errors and 65 Days Of Static – they’re all in there somewhere, but at no point do the Cardiff three-piece lose their own identity, or find their songs lost within a photocopy of a photocopy of some other sound from some other time.

Instead, Illuminated People is, at its best, extremely exciting – the sound of a band all wild-eyed and frantic, saliva glistening on bared teeth. There’s more ambition in the fifty minutes here than most of 2011 churned forth in its entirety, each moment never far from some new experiment or idea.

Sure, they don’t always work. Opener ‘Libra Man’ sprawls with proggy time-shifts and artillery percussion but never quite has the impact that it should, the vocals a touch too jarring and the production lacking the punch needed to hold the track together. Elsewhere some of the guitar lines – on ‘Funicular’, for example – veer perilously close to a Christian rock jangle, and the relentless movement of the thing can get a bit exhausting. “We don’t really believe in sitting on songs” said the band last October, and by god it shows, their attention apparently wavering midway through a track onto some new rhythm or melodic structure.

But it doesn’t matter: any album that can segue from the Karen O yelps of ‘This Fortune’ through to the drowsy singalong of ‘What We Done Wrong’ and the gothic howl of ‘A Warrior Who Longs To Grow Herbs’ earns a considerable measure of goodwill. And by the time it reaches the Animal Collective erraticism of ‘Shores’ and the manic carnival of closer ‘A Bear On His Own’ – a TV theme song spliced with a Nuremberg rally – well, you’d forgive Islet murder.

Heck, let’s not even begin criticising a band for trying to do too much. Illuminated People might not be perfect but it’s never anything less than interesting, and its high points – the grinding outro of ‘Entwined Pines’, the frenetic build of ‘Filia’ – are outstanding enough to warrant attention on their own. They may not yet have fully found their voice but at least Islet haven’t settled for some old and tired sound, stifled by its own yawn – and hey, any rough edges that Illuminated People has quickly pale next to the sheer vigour of the thing.

by Christian Cottingham - The Line Of Best Fit

"The Stool Pigeon: Islet - 'Illuminated People' review"


Cardiff’s Islet managed to entice speculation and even adulation when they first broke a couple of years back simply by refusing to play the game — no Twitter, no Facebook, no website. The only way you could catch a glimpse of the band online was via shaky handheld footage of their cacophonous live shows or through a very basic fan-run page. Good work — it certainly got them noticed.

Islet were also noted for being, here we go, ‘indescribable’. In 2012 we have what could be considered their fourth release proper (does ‘This Fortune’, a live collage, count?), and not only do they now have a platform on all the usual social networking and band-pimping sites, but they are very much ‘describable’ if, as this record suggests, remarkably unusual, possibly unique.

Illuminated People is a controlled explosion of an album. Genuinely wild, sometimes maddeningly obtuse ideas are somehow melded to create something that can alternately bore and enthrall — often within the same song.

Take opener ‘Libra Man’: it jerks into life with judders of electronic keys, cold and abrasive, before harmonic vocals soothe and usher in a series of screams, then tribal beats. Suddenly we’re in full-throttle psych territory; all 13th Floor Elevators honking, mod revival vocals and a wildly unappealing forced baritone chorus. That the song’s second half (yes, it’s a nine-minute opener) alternates between droning prog and brain-melting math beats should be no surprise. It’s an album built around unpredictable changes in direction and good-humoured rather than indulgent repetition.

Standout track ‘What We Done Wrong’ suggests a folky, choral devotional before devolving into pub-punk, passing through a little of Tangerine Dream’s kosmische scenery before landing on full-pelt Explosions In The Sky post-rock. Elsewhere we’ve got tremendous, teary-eyed acoustic indie in ‘We Bow’, the superb psychedelic hardcore (yes, it’s possible) of ‘Filia’, the sadly undercooked calypso pop/jagged dance of ‘Funicular’ and the pointless ‘Shores’ with its droning circus-song instrumentation. Closer ‘A Bear On His Own’ is just marvellous, however, touching on everything from Gorky’s sweetness to ’70s power pop, before ascending a strangely curved ladder of electro and spitting out the end of the album with a couple of old school, alt-metal breakdowns. Just in case you thought they were somehow lacking in diversity, you know?

As available as these madcap sorts have gradually made themselves to the world of web, they’ve lost nothing of their intention to create willfully strange, often difficult but queerly brilliant music.

by Michael James Hall - The Stool Pigeon

"Addict Music: Islet 'Illuminated People' review"


Those familiar with Welsh experimental pop quartet Islet, will know by now that they are no normal band. Their output so far, two mini albums Celebrate This Place and Wimmy, are not only abnormal but extremely worthy. Celebrate This Place was a more percussive noisy lo-fi affair based around complex rhythmic structures and psychedelic notions of “Holly in your mind” not to mention the bizarre animal noises showcased on ‘We Shall Visit’. While Wimmy was equally askew and experimental with its clanking drums, repetitious choruses and the band’s almighty impassioned manifestations of the songs at their live shows, which had many a punter either enraptured or simply taken aback by the bands dynamism.
It may be of disappointment to some then, that Islet’s first full length ‘Illuminated People’ is for the large part more restrained on the energy front. Instead however, Islet’s profound love of experimentation isn’t simply jammed out continuously in noisy blasts, but is more honed and concentrated into soundscapes and concepts, yet thankfully is made no less engaging. Opener ‘Libra Man’ is as good an introduction to Islet as you’ll need, the 9 minute long epic is placed first on the track listing which in itself shows how much Islet can crowbar into one long song and still keep it attention-grabbing. The track itself revolves around the trademark loud drum thumps and mechanised sounding guitar judders, while playful if slightly confusing lyrical putdowns are thrown down over the top “And when I see you run, I think of chainmail”, “What is your greatest fear? Ours is the sight of you”. The best thing about the track is the journey Islet takes the listener on, as soon as you get uninterested with one part of the song another great section starts up (notably the superb psychedelic culmination).
Elsewhere, ‘Entwined Pines’ is the closest the album gets to a pop song with cooing, more accessible vocals as opposed to the synchronised yelps that asserted themselves principally on Wimmy. Hell, it even has a chorus that’s hard not to sing along to, if any song on this album will win Islet some more fans it’ll probably be this one. ‘Funicular’ too is similar which starts off sounding like warped lounge music before a druggy swirled chorus interjects every now and again.
There’s also a take on the sea shanty (‘Shores’) elements of post-punk (‘Filia’) and as close as Islet will get to rave on the mutating beast of a song that is ‘This Fortune’. Perhaps most surprising of all on Illuminated People however isn’t the plethora of bonkers ideas but the moments Islet actually take a moment to strip back and slow down on tracks like ‘We Bow’. It’s in stark contrast to the other tracks with pained vocals and gentle guitar plucks, but oddly enough is one of the albums standouts and proof if any that Islet can turn their hand to pretty much anything and manage to keep it fresh and distinctively by Islet.
All in all ‘Illuminated People’ serves like a manual on how to make great experimental music delivered by the new masters of the craft, Islet. It’s an absolute joy to listen to and is a must-have for fans of variety in their music.

by Toby McCarron - Addict Music

"Q: Islet - 'Illuminated People' review. Print only"


Cardiff four-piece make an appealing - to some - racket.

From the Welsh valleys comes this clatteringly loud psychedelic punk quartet. For a band whose last single was backed by a montage of answer machine messages, though, Islet's debut effort is a bit tamer on the experimentation front. But Illuminated People still flows with ideas and adventurism: Libra Man is a prog-tinged collision of juddering keyboards and ghostly vocals while Funicular is a brilliantly off-kilter tropical rock jam, like Flaming Lips drunk on cocktails. It won't appeal to everyone, but, for those daring enough, and whose ears can withstand the onslaught, Islet are unmissable.

by Al Horner - Q

"Drowned In Sound: Islet 'Illuminated People' review"


As cardigan-indie bands go, you have to hand it to Islet. At a time when many people’s idea of adventure is a different route to work or a robot vacuum cleaner, there’s a depressing whiff of vanilla pervading the ‘alternative mainstream’s surface-level. Put it down to the elevation of middling no-marks. Bands investing in the mistaken belief that attempted deliverance of some irredeemably doomed ‘guitar music’ scene provides them a mandate for mediocrity. Bands whose audience comprises an assembly of stoned boys and charming men and latte honeys with a righteous streak and a Starbucks punch card. Or put it down to the largely etiolated British music press, de facto ringmasters of the musical circus, who seem as bothered by this obnoxious farrago as seagulls watching a sinking ship. Islet are children of their time, but they’re also a breath of fresh air among Britain’s myriad bad smells, sent to offer the most colourful of stripe something altogether more fascinating.

Undoubtedly the weirdest bunch you might reasonably hope to find vying for an NME cover any time soon, the Cardiff-based collective have rallied together something approaching a cult following since catching eyes in 2009, with a singular live show and a brace of peerless EPs. But where Wimmy and Celebrate This Place, both remarkable specimens, at once exotic yet industrial, felt like fully-formed ideas flung precisely at the altar of awesomeness, Illuminated People forges a sprawling path entirely more unpindownable. Which isn’t to say it’s opted for token whackiness: in fact, eagle-eyed fans will note a shift towards relatively conventional song structures, occasionally evoking an actual indie record (albeit something along the lines of ¡Forward, Russia! featuring Boris). Even ignoring the fact it’s the band’s debut proper, it is an album of extraordinary ambition that British music can be proud and grateful to possess.

In fairness there’s a diminutive helping of kook to overcome, but leave preconceptions at the door and it pays off. It’d be easy to roll eyes at ‘Libra Man’, the nine-minute explosion of funk, prog, rave and erupting desire that sets things off. But when it croons and snarls “you’re so self-satisfied” over a dancing percussive bedding you might find yourself instead falling in love with it a bit. Plain-voiced singer Mark (previously tour driver for Future of the Left, fact fans) makes a living working with disabled children - perhaps themselves the illuminated people of the album’s title - and accordingly every coiled spring, every infinite moment of thrashing energy, celebrates the boundless euphoria of uninhibited self-expression. It’s evident as ‘What We Done Wrong’s frantic guitars rock up against ‘This Fortune’s thundering, oppressive rays. As demented hollers veer into bottom-dropping cesspits of bass squelch. The juxtaposition is masterful, kicking glowing orbs of emancipated glee into a skewed, bellowing dystopia.

There are hints of post-hardcore, post-rock and even non-awful prog, too. Apparently fashioned from orphaned bits of genre after a heartbreaking mix-up at the factory, the best song here is the rough-hewn, complex ‘Filia’, crashing through inhabited forests of dynamic fretwork and earthy rumble, by turns paranoid and positively apocalyptic. Almost as good, stately post-punk centrepiece ‘A Warrior Who Longs to Grow Herbs’ toys with a box of unknown pleasures, Emma Daman’s delicate wails evoking the wide-eyed ferocity of an infant left too long in a dark room. More promising excursions are uncovered in the chronically eccentric ‘A Bear On His Own’, and to a lesser extent ‘Funicular’ and the meandering ‘Shores’, a song so eager to fill Animal Collective’s drab, vegan-friendly moccasins it accidentally falls flat into the trap of succeeding.

Admittedly Illuminated People can occasionally feel not only unhinged but unglued: ‘Entwined Pines’ is a number of disparate instances of soaring brilliance soldered half-arsedly together like an ADD sufferer’s model aeroplane. And yeah, despite admirable efforts to branch out style-wise, you suspect Side B could lose ten minutes without major casualties, suggesting this might best have been sliced down to EP length. Or maybe I’m wrong and, you know, the thing’ll stand as a benchmark of bravery for generations to come. But for all its vital, youthful élan, the temptation is to credit Illuminated People not as a sound victory for a deserving gang of decent people, which it is, but a wild diorama of only partially captured potential. Children of their time they may be, but this is a debut to introduce the Islet name to the established indie lexicon, rather than define it. But, oh, not to worry; these guys have all the time in the world.

by Jazz Monroe - Drowned In Sound

"Western Mail: Islet - Live Review"

5 / 5

As a rendition of Islet’s back catalogue, this gig – a rare hometown stop on their European tour – was brilliant enough.

Yet as a performance, it was nothing short of astonishing, hyper-kinetic and imbued with a tribal intensity.

Enthralling and exhilarating, and simply exhausting to watch, Islet didn’t so much play their music as punish themselves with it.

From the moment they wound their way through the crowd to the stage, chiming a primal rhythm from mini glockenspiels, this was an hypnotic, shamanic experience.

Every song was a glorious cacophony of apparently disparate and improvised sounds – a pop song of sorts, just twisted into new and fantastical shapes and delivered with a conviction which bordered on the psychotic.

Possibly kindred spirits with The Fall and Can, or maybe just willfully obtuse purveyors of psychedelic rock, this set resembled a kindergarten workshop.

Staccato bursts of noise, distorted harmonies, manic percussion and lots of bouncing.

Always somebody bouncing.

It may have appeared chaotic, but whether it was the gentle atmospherics of We Bow or the raging groove of This Fortune – the first single from February’s debut album Illuminated People – each note was perfectly placed.

At their best they were unstoppable, able to build a fearsome wall of sound and then drop, in an instant, to an angelic vocal solo.

Songs rose from nowhere, emerging in the midst of a squall of feedback to reveal a beautiful guitar melody or ethereal voice which lifted your heart into your mouth.

With members Alex and Mark making frequent excursions into the audience, the dancefloor became an extension of the stage, which itself was also another percussion instrument to be assaulted with vigour.

The whole experience was typical of a band whose insatiable urge to explore the outer reaches of popular music should not just be applauded but plugged into the National Grid and used as a new benchmark for young musicians to emulate.

In the meantime, we can just watch in amazement as they blaze their own wonderfully idiosyncratic trail.

Steve Gibbs - Western Mail

"Pitchfork: Islet - 'Entwined Pines' Track Review"

Although Cardiff-based band Islet are known for their hyperactive shows, their early recordings lacked a certain something-- like, say, the giddy surprise of having one of the band members thwacking a tambourine on your shoe. The band just released their debut LP, Illuminated People, on Turnstile/Shape in the UK this past January, with assistance in the studio from producer Drew Morgan (Perfume Genius). His production on tracks like "Entwined Pines" emphasises qualities in the music that get lost when the band's busy bouncing off the walls, like the lush Glenn Branca-like hum of the verses, conjuring a pixellated paradise where strange beasts lope with lazy, contented largeness.

Laura Snapes - Pitchfork

"BBC: Islet - 'Illuminated People'"

As the latest quest to save guitar music trundles along – with pundits lighting the distress beacons and hunting in all manner of nooks and crannies for the next riff-chugging bunch to anoint as saviours – it’s worth positing whether we really need another Learn Three Chords, Start A Band type to rush to the rescue. Cardiff’s Islet, you imagine, would certainly argue that inspiration and innovation can come from far more varied sources than dusty old amps and second-hand Ramones CDs. Last year’s Celebrate This Place and Wimmy EPs showcased how raucously bonkers their wares could be, touching upon influences ranging from Pavement to Gang Gang Dance; now, they’ve rolled up all their eclectic weirdness into one ball for debut full-length Illuminated People, which is brimming with a knack for oddball soundscapes akin to a hybrid of Can and These New Puritans.
Opener Libra Man, for example, is the boldest of opening gambits, kicking off with a jerky, serrated electronic riff that’s bolstered by tribal drums, before blossoming into staccato hiccoughs of freaky noises which unfold over nine minutes. Yet things take an immediate volte-face for This Fortune, a brutal slow-burner that’s built upon dank, growling guitars and Emma Daman’s voice, which switches between disconcerting cooing and frenzied yelping.
In less-skilled hands, such a mad professor approach to experimenting could risk being alienating, but Illuminated People is never indecipherable; indeed, We Bow is a disarmingly sweet and simple ditty that’s furnished by the heartfelt desire to "dive into your world with you". And for all the strangeness of Entwined Pines, it’s still a pop song – one with an eerie, chiming melody seemingly pilfered from David Lynch’s ice cream van, perhaps, but a pop song nonetheless, with a swooping melody and sing-along chorus.
Other highlights include the shimmering pitter-patter of A Warrior Who Longs to Grow Herbs and the psychedelic, off-kilter rhythms of Funicular, but it’s closing track A Bear On His Own that neatly encapsulates what makes Islet so vital. Boasting an electro riff reminiscent of a demented fairground attraction, it eventually erupts into a discordant mixture of bizarre choral chanting and splinters of tumbling scree that are equal-parts decadent and delightful. Forget power-chords and delving into guitar music’s annals; something as thoroughly modern, and bizarrely brilliant, as Illuminated People needs to be savoured as much as possible. - BBC

"The Fly: Islet - Live Review"

4.5 / 5

The music that’s been blaring from the PA between the bands cuts out and four figures begin wandering around the room, clanging bells. “Are they making us join a cult?” an audience member whispers as the bells crash into a din that’s swiftly overwhelmed by a thick, bassy squelch from the stage and a feral howl. No, this is no cult initiation ceremony – this is your standard Islet gig.

The attacking and decaying synth of opener ‘The Lion’s Share’ is as tame as it gets – soon you’ll see band members chattering like chimps, screaming in each other’s faces and generally freaking out. Shaggy-haired Mark Thomas stands in the crowd, waving a tambourine in people’s faces, then suddenly he’s stood topless on top of an amplifier. Al Williams hides in a corner strumming a bass guitar – no, wait, now he’s obliterating a floor tom. Meanwhile Emma Daman sways and shudders like a woman possessed before taking over the drum kit from Mark’s brother John for the second half of the set. This gives John the chance to play frontman, spluttering his way through ‘Entwined Pines’ while Emma delivers a Boredoms-inspired beat so violent it ought to have a restraining order.

Elsewhere, Islet construct impressive medleys of material from their staggering debut album, ‘Illuminated People’. The sombre ‘We Bow’ is bouncier than on record, gradually segueing into a version of ‘This Fortune’ that hurls itself at you with bludgeoning dissonance. This band don’t just play songs – it’s like the songs are controlling them, making them move wildly around the room. Seeing Islet perform like this puts other musicians in perspective. Islet are utterly original and absolutely uncompromising; they’re a lesson to any band that thinks they can just stand still onstage, because this is how live music is meant to be done.

Robert Cooke - The Fly


Forthcoming October 7th
LP 'Released By The Movement', Shape Records
12" single 'Triangulation Station', Shape Records

LP 'Illuminated People' January 2012 Shape Records, UK, Europe, Japan
(Shortlisted for Welsh Music Prize 2012)

12" single This Fortune tour only vinyl

CD "Celebrate This Place Wimmy" May 2011 Shape Records/Turnstile/PIAS/Big Nothing Europe and Japan

EP “Wimmy” October 2010 Shape Records
EP “Celebrate This Place” July 2010 Shape Records

All music streaming on official website (below)



"The return of south Wales' utterly wild, cosmic, nature-attuned four-piece Islet is enormously welcome news." Pitchfork, May 2013

Islet are sonic adventurers from Wales.

The love that Welsh band Islet have received since forming has much to do with their single-minded attitude and independent ethics. Islet formed in Cardiff in 2009 when brothers Mark and John Thomas started jamming with Emma Daman, and the trio decided they wanted to form a band without rules, where anything was possible.

After a handful of live shows, they brought in Alex Williams to play guitar and percussion. The band quickly started to generate interest on blogs, zines and fansites with their incendiary live shows, which featured all four members swapping instruments, creating extended prog jams, and half the group ending up in the audience. Islet responded to the hype by shunning the usual route of gaining exposure through social networking sites, preferring instead that their profile be built around word of mouth, their incredible live performances, and their own zine The Isness which they distributed postally. Their music was scarcely available to hear online, so if you wanted to give Islet a go you had to make an effort. Crucially, people did, because the music in question was a total blast. A surreal yet thrilling patchwork of postpunk, Krautrock, the sort of repetitive percussive rinseouts that glibly get called ‘tribal’, and a bunch of other stuff eluding category.

In early 2010, they recorded their first mini album, ‘Celebrate This Place’, which was released in June on Mark’s own label, Shape Records, (with Turnstile Music), followed swiftly by ‘Wimmy’ in the autumn of the same year, an indescribable mix which takes its influences from the likes of Deerhoof, Gang Gang Dance, Os Mutantes, and Pavement. Both were six-song mini-albums of just under 30 minutes apiece – were self-produced, self-released and intentionally short on info about the band. Managing to put their chaotic live sound onto record, these releases - recorded in a Mid-Wales barn and Cardiff bedrooms by the band themselves- received positive reviews and saw the group embark on tours of the UK, playing various festivals including Truck, Latitude, and Green Man. The summer of 2011 saw the band being occasionally joined onstage by fellow Cardiff musician H. Hawkline, playing festivals in the UK and overseas such as Reading & Leeds and Primavera in Spain.

Released in January 2012, ‘Illuminated People’ was Islet’s first full length LP, and was praised at home and abroad. The album was and was shortlisted for the Welsh Music Prize and was also their first international release, with the four-piece touring the EU and Japan. For this record the band worked with an outside producer, with Drew Morgan stepping in to bring together the montage of sprawling, searching sound. Fluctuating from serrated synths and percussive rave-ups to delicate will-o-the wisp vocals, the LP was hailed as a strange and brilliant album, with the NME describing Islet as “a model of how a left-leaning rock band ought to conduct themselves in 2012.”

Their latest release, 2013’s ‘Released By The Movement’ saw Islet work with former Shape Records labelmate, Welsh musician/producer Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo). With Black on the controls, the album was recorded and mixed in practice spaces and bedrooms in Cardiff with no engineers or outside input, giving the group the freedom to work without inhibition, recording stream-of-consciousness sonic journeys alongside unruly maximalist adventures.

Key previous live performances include:
2013 - SXSW, Austin, Texas (US)
2012- Swn, Green Man, End of the Road, Dot to Dot (UK)
Radars (Japan)
2011- Reading & Leeds, Truck, Bestival (UK)
Crossing Borders (Belgium + Netherlands), Pohoda (Slovakia), Primavera (Spain), Eurosonic (Netherlands)
2010 - Green Man, Latitude, Dot to Dot (UK).