Friday, March 22, 2013

Ikestra - "Ikestra" on Destroy All Records review

IKESTRA cover art

According to the bands’ Bandcamp page Ikestra “ seven musicians making one sound for all people”, and from the first run through of the tracks on their self titled debut release, one can see how that bold claim can actually hold some truth. Ikestra are a Leeds based collective, originally formed in 2010, featuring Sam Bell on percussion, Sam Gardner on drums, Henry Guy on bass, Joe Harris and Craig Scott on guitars, Tom Henry on keyboards and Anna Stott on vocals. The opening phrases of “Dan Y Coed” leave one wondering where the band are transporting us, at any moment the music could lock down into a jazz funk groove, or hover gently over a bed of warm electronics. Will the next phrase reveal that “Ikestra” is in fact an angular, disconcerting experience, or will we be reminded of Miles Davis throwing the traditional vanguard off the scent with “In a Silent Way” or “Bitches Brew”? “Ikestra” is, it seems, all of these elements fused together to produce a set of tunes that will please devotees of straight ahead funk, post punk, trip hop and soul, with just about any other genre that can be brought to mind. The single release from the album “Sprinter” has the liveliness and zeal that one may expect from a representative release, with a subtle change of tempo and pace to keep the most experimental of music fan contented.  “JSA” is an instrumental that takes the listener through a gallery of previous influences whilst sprinkling a little dissension and repetition that any fan of the Krautrock sound will be more than happy to listen to.
Momentum is reined in with “Endure” featuring luxurious vocals over instrumentation which is almost devotional in nature, whilst simultaneously drawing the listener along on cyclical electronic phrases. “Mistakes” is infused with the spirit of a smoky late night bar, whilst at the same time, to these ears, bringing to mind an afro beat composition/improvisation. By the time the last track “Lessons” is due, the listener may believe they have become familiar with what Ikestra as a unit are about. This final piece however is an almost free form psychedelic workout broken only by the occasional calm or change in tempo to ease the listener prior to the next barrage of what can only be described as practically “progressive rock” chord progressions. A ride of many experiences and sensations crafted together to produce a coherent album. The band’s name apparently relates to the “oneness” symbolised in the “I” and is an acknowledgement to Sun Ra and his Arkestra. With a name such as Sun Ra in the mix too, it would be wise to investigate Ikestra with an open mind and the expectation of something that is indeed “for all people”. 

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