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ICARUS
I Tweet The Birdy Electric

BAY36CD
The Leaf Label 2004
11 Tracks. 65mins37secs

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Signed to Hydrogen Dukebox sister label Recordings Of Substance, Icarus, formed of cousins Ollie Bown and Sam Britton, emerged at the end of the nineties with a first album, Kamikaze. Recorded in Sarajevo, while they where holding DJ workshops shortly after the Bosnian conflict ended, the album presented an interesting collection of drum’n’bass-influenced compositions evoking the sparse soundscapes of early Photek or Source Direct records. Icarus returned to similar grounds a year later with Fijaka, on which they further explored the possibilities of dance music through darker and more contrasted constructions. Moving to Trevor Jackson’s Output Recordings for their third opus, and their own imprint, N/A, for their fourth, the pair find their spiritual home with Leaf as they unleash I Tweet The Birdy Electric.
With this album, Icarus move away from their minimal drum’n’bass roots to explore a far wider, and more rewarding, collection of sounds and ambiences. If their previous records already hinted at wide-open spaces and intricate structures, I Tweet The Birdy Electric resembles a vast sonic mobile which appear to come to life with the slightest breeze. Fruit of continuous live improvisations, the album acts as a diary of moments encountered during these extensive jam sessions. Sometimes evoking the complex structures and abstract melodies of Asa-Chang & Junray’s stellar Jun Ray Song Chang, Icarus reveal more clearly the essence of their influences, said to range from Zappa to Ornette Coleman. Treating each sound, for the best part acoustic, as if it were a fragile piece of a large jigsaw, the pair build abstract background sonic on which they hang delicate broken melodies, leaving the listener with the task of mentally reconstructing each composition as they please.
Ganglion, which opens the album, soon appears to be the most straightforward piece here, yet the mastery with which the beat, sharp and hurried yet laidback hovers around the melodic line demonstrates impressive control and vivid imagination. The rough deconstruction of tracks such as Frogmatik, Mutations or Birdz Max contrast with the more subtle melodic circumvolutions of Pots & Reeds, Antz Nez or the ambitious Three False Starts to create some interesting relief to this unpredictable record.
With I Tweet The Birdy Electric, Icarus challenge the listener’s perceptions as much as they do their own natural career progression, risking the integrity of their entire body of work for the search of the perfect sound. This however pays off here as the pair manages to remain consistent not only throughout the eleven compositions presented here, but also faithful to the spirit of their previous releases. Here, they simply appear to distance themselves from more direct forms of music to reach a level of honesty and sincerity rarely achieved.

4.4/5

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TRACKLIST

Ganglion
Essen
Three False Starts
Jokun's Civet
Frogmatik
Pots & Reeds
Gnog
Mutations
Birdz Max
Tea Bell
Antz Nez

ICARUS Discography

THE SURFER'S GUIDE TO ICARUS
Icarus
The Leaf Label
Output Recordings

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