Icarus: Sylt

Without question, Icarus's electroacoustic music is as arresting and as unusual as Sylt song-titles like “Rugkiks” and “Second Inf(e)rænce.” Even so, beneath its oft-hyperrhythmic, alien skin lies a not entirely unconventional musical soul, whether or not the material appears in the form of epic improvs or shorter pieces stitched together from live and studio edits. Sylt's most immediately distinguishing detail is simply the tracks' running times: two pieces, “First Inf(e)rænce” and “Second Inf(e)rænce,” were recorded live at Les Abbatoires, Toulouse in May, 2006, the second one immediately after the first, and comprise thirty-six minutes of the album's hour; the two are so dominant, they make the remaining five pieces seem like vignettes by comparison, despite the fact that they're engrossing too. Though Icarus partners Ollie Bown and Sam Britton hardly need help in generating dense masses of sound, Lothar Ohlmeier and Susie Winkworth sonically enliven two pieces with respective clarinet and cello contributions.

Given the extreme degree to which Sylt embraces fearless experimentalism, the fact that the duo's initial music-making took its inspiration from jungle and drum'n'bass can't help but startle. But even though Icarus's viral concoctions are now galaxies removed from those genres, a tangential connection to them is still audible in their material's frenzied percussive patterning. Moments of musique concrete, Indian, psychedelia, gamelan, free jazz, minimal techno, and avant-garde classical also surface during the music's perpetual metamorphosis, and, believe it or not, “Second Inf(e)rænce” even scatters a few moments of jittery funk across its mutating terrain.

December 2007