Islaja – Suu

Suu often sounds like some high gloss mid-eighties record – the sort of Art of Noise mash up, albeit that bit weirder, more in tune with the whacked out world of the Residents; a high gloss chart-bound Residents.

 

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This new, very different release by Islaja (different that is, to her other stuff) will take you some time to get used to, and no mistake. But once you do, you’ll be knocked out by its power and sheer ambition. Still; as I said, it can baffle you at first listen. Skeleton Walk is a hell of an opener in this regard. Why it’s at the beginning of the record is anyone’s guess, maybe because it’s such a strange beast? If so I applaud Islaja for having the guts to freak out the unwitting listener. The track is built on a steady, crunching beat; and embellished with the most minimal sonic backing, and precious few changes of chord and tone; in that respect it’s reminiscent of bits of Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English. So far so good. What makes it a mental opener are the vocals, which are a weird mix of über, overarching Grace Jones-isms and expressive, breathy calls to arms à la Patti Smith. As such it’s dry, humorous and overbearingly wacky all at the same time; which can be a bit, well, hard to take. But it’s ambitious. And in the context of the rest of the LP, a great signpost.

The following track, See No Sun takes a similar if more structured path. Again there’s very little instrumentation backing Islaja’s barked incantations, and the silences give a feeling of paranoia. A lot of the arrangements seem out of sorts with each other, fractured, and bitty, aggressive and deliberately at odds with the beat of the vocals, or at different tempos. It’s very unsettling.

Suu often sounds like some high gloss mid-eighties record – the sort of Art of Noise mash up (Chaos Pilot, Travel Light), albeit that bit weirder, more in tune with the whacked out world of the Residents; a high gloss chart-bound Residents. Other bits have this moody cine noir feel to them, whether melancholy instrumentals that flirt with Low era Bowie (Temporary Haven, Sandals of Alice) or backstreet whispers; The Bogus Man soliloquies like Shit Hit The Fan (a truly scarifying slab of quirky, Hoch Europa lecturing).

There are some belting songs on here mind, and I wonder if anybody could refuse such gems as Music Is Mine, Lay By My Side and Dust From Heaven where Islaja drops the artful noises and gives it to us straight, and given the disorientating effect the reset of the record has, these are sucker punches par excellence.

Once you get used to this record you’ll realize it’s a bobby dazzler.