[sic] Magazine

Peptalk – Islet

Reviewed by Paul Lockett

Each member of Peptalk also plays with bands and artists such as Yoko Ono, Xiu Xiu and Thurston Moore, so their musical credentials are certainly intact. They’ve grouped together to record an album which on first listen is otherworldly. This feeling doesn’t really lift after a dozen or so further listens. It’s definitely an album with a twist.

Islet is Peptalk’s debut and it’s released on the Home Assembly Music label, home to The Declining Winter, but this music feels about 10,000 miles away from Home Assembly’s native Yorkshire.

The overriding feeling I have when I listen to Islet is one of transcendental meditation. The music carries me initially to places such as Thailand and Japan. Close your eyes and you really could be there. The band members themselves are based in Tokyo, San Juan and Los Angeles, so you can start to start to see why there are so many different musical styles on display.

Much of the album is instrumental. There are female vocals on a number of the tracks, and they’re used almost like an instrument rather than a lead vocal. ‘St Michael’s Mount’ is a case in point. ‘Bow Chaser’ has a dark edge; it could almost be the soundtrack to a gang being chased through the streets of Tokyo late at night. It has a brass element not unlike the sound of a pinball machine and features a weighty synth bass.

‘Nilbog’ is the closest we get to actual lyrics and a melody – certainly initially – and those vocals are sensual for sure. They give way to what sounds like a French accordion and the track takes on a more sinister sound, but eventually returns full-circle.

People who’ve travelled to the Far East will certainly see parallels between the music on Islet and the local music in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Japan. But the album isn’t completely Far Eastern in its outlook – ‘Podesta’, for instance, reminds me of a club in Sydney which I once visited. This music could be from anywhere – and nowhere. The bassline and synth which kicks in at 1:17 on ‘Podesta’ could easily be coming out of a PA at 3AM in a chill-out club in New York.

Fans of avant-garde music are sure to enjoy this album. It’s fair to say that fans of post-classical music such as A Winged Victory For The Sullen and Ryuichi Sakamoto (particularly on ‘Locus’) would also find much to enjoy here. Not that the album has a post-classical edge (it doesn’t), but open-minded listeners will certainly appreciate its magic.

Islet is released on June 15th on vinyl and is limited to 250 copies.

Artists at Home Assembly Music