Those two words have been popping up quite a lot in the infamous Identification of Music Group of late. Few can boast the level of consistency that Andy Ferguson’s and Matt McBriars’ work maintains. The anticipation for Bicep’s debut eponymous album is rife.
It’s a purposeful and artistically arranged body of work. Ninja Tune’s infatuation with experimentation combined with the duo’s extensive knowledge of music makes for an album which ticks all the boxes. Ambience, euphoric dancing and breaks. Oh lord, the breaks!
Bicep represents an open minded statement. Both artists say that if they could only listen to one record for the rest of their lives it would Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and inspiration from its ability to float in and out of dream-like soundscapes and uplifting energy is channelled beautifully.
‘Orca’ kicks off in pretty epic fashion. A track that shimmers and shines and gives a real sense of aesthetic to the whole record. Glue comes in and leaves us awe inspired. I mentioned the breaks, didn’t I? Dreamy atmospherics, soulful vocals and movement inciting breakbeat. Find me a human who doesn’t enjoy that and I’ll eat my hat. ‘Kites’ possesses a warm nostalgia. Something to be played at around 7am, when your mate has just come back with the second carryout of the night and you need a little lift.
Both ‘Vespa’ and ‘Drift’ are beatless compositions, with the latter coming up trumps because of its cinematic feel. It’s pretty huge; like we’re building up to some sort of epic sci-fi battle scene. The art of cinematic soundscaping is one that Bicep implement well on most of the album. ‘Ayaya’ begins with pleasant flutes that wouldn’t sound out of place running alongside a video of Naruto, but the highlight of the album comes in the form of ‘Rain’; an enchanting track that blends Indian vocals, fist pumping energy and otherworldly synths to spellbinding effect.
The freedom to create tones focused on surroundings outside of the club is expressed through the slow and emotional sound of ‘Ayr’, a track as calming as the charming Scottish seaside it shares a name with. Though the penultimate track, ‘Vale’, lacks the excitement that the knights created when they rode in and chopped Ramsay Bolton’s army to shreds, we end on a high note with the most familiar sounding song of the record, ‘Aura’. While Bicep transcend genre and blend elements of vast amounts of music in their work, they still hold close a signature trademark, a sound which is entirely their own, and it’s exploited wonderfully through an inspiring composition that is primed and ready for a ‘one more tune’ chant.
Bicep’s sought after debut full-length takes the foot off the gas in terms of club-ready focus, instead choosing to experiment with a diverse range of other ideas, symbolic to the success of the Feel My Bicep blog. The result is a special blend of cinematic ecstasy and expertly crafted dance music that is going to wonderfully complement the pair’s live concept. It was worth the wait.