Isolee - We Are Monster

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(Playhouse/Stomp)

OK, I’ll admit it. I stuck my hand up to review this one purely for nostalgia’s sake. Spotting Isolee among the mix, I remembered the happy times I spent listening to Beau Mot Plage from their Rest album, so decided to have a crack at their latest offering to see what the latent master of minimal and “intelligent” dance could come up with next.

Claiming to combine “minimal house with electro ambience” to result in “mad wonky disco” this album definitely had a hard act to follow from the outset. We Are Monster, however, is a confident, elaborate and creative offering of which Rajko Muller can be very proud. Sunshiny, unexpected and introspective by turns, it is a breath of fresh air among its sometimes stolid companions in modern house.

Track one on, Picture Loved, is deliciously dark and digs its heels into the shadowy areas of the brain, leading to a 3am-in-the-club-shit-where-did-all-my-friends-go eerie kind of feel. Strangely, that sort of tune cheers me up immensely! The mood elevates again with the playful Schrapnell, a strange and beautiful echoey tune with a definitive one-two step sort of beat that segues in all directions before coming to a bell tolling finish. Enrico is the sort of tune that would bother me immensely if I was indeed out clubbing and had lost all my mates. Taking unexpected twists and turns, this is a staccato and heavily electro ride featuring disjointed vocals over a multi layered sound.

Next standout track is My Hi-matic, a helicopteral jumble of wobbly beats, weird squeaks and puddle-jumping splashes of colour from variable loops and rhythmic side-steps. A sweet and nostalgic number indeed. With track seven, Face B, Muller takes it back to the gloomy corners of the subterranean club with a progressively low and insistent growl underscoring odd, quacky beats and occasional senseless interjection of vocals. Jellyfish is similarly introverted, but flings stranger little loops all over the place – could that be a bathroom door closing, an insistent drip from the tap? Listening intently to find out what they are is probably half the fun.

Today is guitar and piano driven, and dare I say even a bit poppy – until it gets to the Nick Cave evoking vocals. This track was a bit of a surprise deviation, but as with the random beats, Muller obviously believes that the unexpected is a welcome addition. Things only get noodly and back to the “good old days” of Isolee on the last track, Pillow Talk, a steady and peaceful number that shifts into plenty of restrained, low key bleeps as it peters off in to the distance.

Is this as they claim, “some mutant 21st century hybrid of beautiful but disjointed melodies, space noises from another galaxy, strange basstones and percolating drum patterns…”? Indeed, it is so. This little baby could well be shoving its little sister off the shelves in its quest to be a modern classic.

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