What does it sound like?:
Writing about electronic music. A bit like dancing about architecture. With your rock/pop/country/rap you’ve got song structures, vocal styles, lyrics, band dynamics and lots of juicy analogue stuff to get into. Where to start with an album like Bicep? There’s no lyrics, and only one vocal on the very last track (it gets significantly less interesting the more their tracks aspire to songs). Let’s start with what we can quantify. There are two of them, and they come from a label/blogging/DJing background though have been making music since 2011. Bicep by Bicep offers twelve tracks of 4-6 mins in length. I found a track of their on my Spotify Discover playlist and delved further.
It’s my electronic album of the year (so far). Firstly, it keeps it simple. Each track is built up quite deliberately of layers of drums, bass and keyboards. There’s never too much going on to pick out each individual element. Sometimes a very sampled vocal note floats around, and there’s always a strong melodic presence. Tempo is very consistent and there’s no huge drops or builds. All of that might be hiding away in remixes, but on the album things are consistent, controlled, detailed.
And it’s all in the detail. Each drum pattern, synth wash and sample enter and exit at exactly the right times to contribute to the atmosphere and development of the track. Very rarely is the beat a standard 4/4. There’s a kick of big beat, and a shuffle of drum and bass behind many of the rhythms. All however is filtered and toned for listening rather than dancing.
There are moments that recall artists like Four Tet in squelchy bass and glitchy rhythms, and one track that reaches beyond any dance music to recall the hypnotic shifts of Steve Reich of Marimba Phase and Drumming. Each track is a self-contained musical world, while also being part of a satisfying musical whole.
What does it all *mean*?
Listen without prejudice. In an age when everything is trailed and analysed pre-release, its possible to still discover artists about whom you know nothing.
Joy through repetition.
Goes well with…
Walking. Too subtle and restrained for running. Working.
Might suit people who like…
Headphones, sounded great on mine.