Bicep Vs, You/Don’t EP

Karl Blossfeldt’s “Blumernbachia hieronymi Loasaceae” (1932)

[Aus Music]

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With key releases for Throne Of Blood and Love Fever, an oft-updated blog dropping breadcrumbs through their house music universe, and a calendar rapidly filling with big DJ gigs, Belfast duo Bicep are rising fast in 2012. And with musical interests as diverse as rave-rinsed house and sleazy disco, Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar feel particularly of the moment: less attached to a specific musical genre than to a vibe — bright, big, boiling — that ties together everything they’re into, they feel utterly of a piece with how musical tastes coalesce in the Internet age. So while you might not place Bicep on Aus Music based on the sound they’ve put forth so far, they don’t feel at all out of place amongst George FitzGerald and Midland — producers whose contemporary takes on house are considerably less retro in their approach.

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The first side of the You / Don’t EP, however, adheres pretty directly to what’s been the Aus Music aesthetic for the last few years: co-produced by Ejeca, a likeminded upstart also from Belfast, “You” hooks the group’s familiar chord progressions, warmly digital sound design, and knack for ultimate catchiness up to the mainline of shiny post-dubstep. It’s exceptionally well produced and definitely a step away from their earlier material, but is it a step forward? As it plays, “You” feels more like flirtation than full-on stylistic evolution — a safe exploration of a sound that’s been pretty thoroughly mined at this point. “Don’t,” another collaboration with another newcomer, Omar Odyssey, sticks a little closer to Bicep’s sweet spot: clean, snappy drums run their fingers through ascending organ washes and ghostly wisps of soulful vocals, making for a record that’s both retro and very now. But again, you’re not likely to hear anything that really makes you jump out of your seat.

On paper, Steffi’s house music universe would seem to be running in similar circles, but her remix of “You” is evidence of her sound’s endurance: in quickening the pace and thickening the drums, the Panorama Bar resident has arguably made the track even more reverent than Bicep and Ejeca’s original. But Steffi, ever engaged with vintage sounds but never a chameleon among them, is sure to let plenty of her own style shine through. Perhaps that’s what’s missing from what should be Bicep’s knockout punch: all the muscle they need to break into the big time is front and center, but the personality they’ll need to stay there is standing a little too far off to the sidelines.

Jacob  on August 2, 2012 at 1:56 PM

This review is pretty shit

littlewhiteearbuds  on August 2, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Care to add some substance to your shit talking?

Anton Kipfel  on August 2, 2012 at 2:25 PM

I have to agree with Jordan here and take it a step further. I find Bicep pretty overrated, along the lines of a bunch of UK house producers who aren’t adding much to the conversation. Steffi’s remix on this EP is what makes it worth checking.

Jacob  on August 2, 2012 at 3:39 PM

haha – you silly silly little techno snobs.

What “conversation” is this then?

From what i’ve picked up on, they make fun tracks that people enjoy dancing to – but that’s not that point anymore… is it?

Anton Kipfel  on August 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Jacob, LWE is a site which critically evaluates dance music. That LWE’s writers don’t love every single release is part and parcel of the site’s purpose.

The conversation I referred to is how every new release, or at least the ones that get any airtime, influences and is influenced by the rest. It’s where trends and movements come from.

And finally, people enjoy dancing to “fun” tracks by David Guetta, Tiesto, et al. If the only requirement for something to be good is that people dance to it, I’ve got a neighborhood polka band you should listen to ASAP.

Jordan Rothlein  on August 2, 2012 at 3:50 PM

I think the point, both of this specific review and of this blog in general, is that dance music *can be more* than just “fun tracks that people enjoy dancing to.” Sure, there’s music that’s lots of fun to hear out, and these tunes certainly qualify. But there are artists who are doing more than just sufficing, who are making music that’s worthy of having a conversation about. If having an opinion that’s more than just “oh man, my feet are moving, five stars” makes me a “silly silly little techno snob,” then I’m proud to be one.

Jacob  on August 2, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Ok – So what you’re saying is – If you don’t make something totally new… don’t bother making it at all?

Could you please point me in the direction of something truly groundbreaking at the moment?

littlewhiteearbuds  on August 2, 2012 at 4:40 PM

If you read Jordan’s review, where he praised the quality of the production and various elements within, you’d know that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying that there’s good and there’s great. This is good, not great.

You’re not going to get us to vouch for a binary of quality.

Jordan Rothlein  on August 2, 2012 at 4:57 PM

“Ok – So what you’re saying is – If you don’t make something totally new… don’t bother making it at all?”

No. Not to get all undergrad-y on you, but nothing is “totally new.” All music – both (what is in our view) good and bad – draws on what’s already in the ether. (“Totally new” would literally mean music that has no referent and is thus completely incoherent. We wouldn’t know what to do with it.) Some music stops there (or even short of it, e.g., but some of it pieces musical ideas together more creatively and substantially (e.g. In my view, “good music” is food for thought: it makes me hear music a little differently than I heard it previously.

Henderick AKA Thelonious Funk  on September 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM

To be honest with you, I do not care much for this release… I think RA gave this EP too much respect…


Ripperton, Let’s Hope | Little White Earbuds  on September 12, 2012 at 10:01 AM

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