Far less prolific in the 2010s than they were in the late '90s and early 2000s, English duo ISAN continue to make warm, gentle, accessible electronic music on their eighth full-length, Glass Bird Movement. One of the staple acts of Berlin-based indietronic label Morr Music since the late '90s, the duo's sound hasn't changed much since then, and they're all the better for it. They established such a winning sound on earlier albums like Beautronics and Lucky Cat that it would be counterproductive to alter the formula much. So it comes as little surprise that Glass Bird Movement is filled with steady, midtempo beats and light, twinkling melodies that calm, soothe, and inspire pleasant dreams. ISAN's music isn't hard on the ears, but that doesn't mean it isn't constructed with care and precision. It also doesn't mean that there isn't room for a bit of strangeness to seep through. There are soft bursts of static throughout "Napier Deltic," and other tracks suggest sinister thoughts or subdued feelings, yet still remain friendly and inviting. The duo's fuzzy textures and chirping tones sometimes blur the lines between organic and electronic sounds, and it can be hard to tell if they're sampling nature sounds and incidental around-the-house noises or creating everything synthetically. Their melodies always have a human touch to them; even though they clearly sound electronic, they could easily be played on acoustic instruments much of the time. Having said that, the duo still electronically corrode and obscure the melodies at times. On several tracks, the beats could've been generated by the drum machines Kraftwerk or Cluster used in the '70s, yet it never seems like ISAN are shooting toward some sort of retro pastiche. Glass Bird Movement is yet another subtly inventive, deeply enjoyable release from ISAN.
|Label:||Morr Music / M.M.|