21 July 2012
Ikonika - I Make Lists
Ikonika's debut album Contact, Love, Want, Have scored her a hefty critical following and garnered high praise for it's technicolour mixture of grime, dubstep and wonky; whilst I wasn't hugely enamoured with it's day-glo nature, forthcoming (mini?-)album I Make Lists has definitely cemented Sara Abdel-Hamid as one of the most bravely innovative producers operating at the moment. I Make Lists is an epic journey of fully-fledged synth mayhem that drags in aspects of purple wow, Chicago house, acid techno and 8-bit soundtracks that seems way more complete than it's half hour time span should allow, and throws any possibility of pigeonholing out the window.
The biggest evolution of Ikonika's sound has to be the development of a more solidly 4/4 rhythm, without dropping the intricate drum-programming that had her cast as garage or dubstep on her first releases; confusing triplets, hi-hats that double-up or drop out for single bars, and juke-inflected kick patterns are all thrown into the mix. It feels techno, mixes with techno, and constantly fucks with techno. The high point of this melting pot is the wonderfully epically With Your Mouth, an almost Drexciyan mix of rubber-duck bass and relatively straight-forward percussion that builds into a crescendo of purple wow synths. Catch Vibes is equally bizarre - euphoric house drum-programming and acid bass are offset by GLaDOS-esque vocals and arcade synths that feel like the soundtrack to some retro-futurist VR program.
Much like Rustie's impressive and divisive Starburst EP from earlier this year, I Make Lists is an inherently prog record; one that embraces indulgence, experimentation and the spectrum of psychedelic experience. However, Ikonika's take on psychedelia puts aside the pastoral Britain Syd Barrett eulogised, or the eastern mysticism that runs through Mahavishnu orchestra and Goan trance, and updates the machine-fetishism of Dark Side Pink Floyd or Trans-Europe Express for the post-rave echo boomer generation. Closing the record, PR-812 is an unashamedly epic coda to this expansive mess, that gathers clanking mechanical percussion, broken-radio percussion and warm bass, before floating off into the ether in a series of fuzzy-edged, plant-food friendly riffs. Set controls for the heart of the sun.