Icarus – Carnivalesque
NOT004 – CD Mini-Album – Release date 15 September 2005
CD and digital via Not Applicable Bandcamp
1 – Carnivalesque Part 1
2 – Carnivalesque Part 2
3 – Carnivalesque Part 3
Written and produced by Ollie Bown and Sam Britton
"Here’s something unusual – a free electronics recording that will make you chuckle, something that hasn’t happened in this household since AMM’s It Was an Ordinary Day In Pueblo, Colorado. There are two possible explanations for this. One is that the duo of Ollie Bown and Sam Britton are idiots savant who have arrived at a rollicking approximation of post-Darmstadt electronica by accident. The other is that they are so steeped in Stockhausen, Cage, Boulez, Subotnick et al that they can do this stuff in their sleep. Given that they called their last album I Tweet the Birdy Electric, I suspect it’s the latter.
From the processes Bown and Britton set in motion, it’s clear that they know their Telemusik and Gesang Der Junglinge. But they’re actually reinventing them in the manner of Borges’s Pierre Menard author of the identical Don Quixote to the original – except they rewire those 50s classics using new technology and dance beats. It has all those sci-fi pops, gurgles and squeaks of electro, but fed through a dancefloor sensibility that sometimes verges on the freneticism of harmelodics (think of Ornette Coleman’s Dancing in Your Head). But given that their packaging ethos is all about erasure (try reading the credits), the inspiration might in fact be Flann O’Brian."
John Gill, The Wire.
As Ollie Bown and Sam Britton delve further into their respective academic persuits… (Ollie is currently half way through a doctorate in evolutionary simulation at London’s Goldsmith’s College, while Sam is packing his bags to spend a year studying composition at IRCAM in Paris), Icarus, their somewhat suppressed collective alter-ego, puts forth, as food for the electronic music table, the adaptation of a 30 minute live sketch into a studio-buffed precision product.
Three lengthy tracks come together to form Carnivalesque, a bricolage of the sonic revelry that takes centre stage in Icarus’ sub-conscious, filling the gaps between otherwise serene pursuits: Carnivalesque conceals spasms of Icarus’ signature mayhem amongst extended passages of ritual repetition; an invitation to a highly-dramatised headphone promenade down a familiar city street. Carnivalesque’s tense conflicts of duration misplace it as EP, single or album, ostensibly as a result of the way it was produced. The complete work was recorded as a continuous live performance and repeatedly punched into shape and reinterpreted during extensive post-production sessions, drawing on and expanding techniques pioneered in 2002’s Misfits and 2004’s I Tweet the Birdy Electric releases.
With Carnivalesque Icarus also return to the freedom of their fantasy non-label, Not Applicable, which is set to gain momentum with the release of additional collaborative projects. Carnivalesque’s CD release adopts reappropriated packaging from the discarded albums of other artists, alluding to a multiplicity of themes: the deterioration of the absolutism of ‘shifting units’ in the 21st century music trade; transitions of associated identity throughout the lifetime of musical articles; the musical work as carnivore or cannibal; and, simply, the recycling of negligent waste.
Icarus’ recent ventures have included the critically acclaimed album I Tweet the Birdy Electric on The Leaf Label, described by The Wire Magazine as one of their top 10 electronica albums of 2004; remixes for Four Tet, Lunz and Murcof; and performances around Europe, including Belgrade’s Dis-Patch festival and the Brussels Planetarium. Scratch work has also started for a new album.
Carnivalesque’s CD release adopts reappropriated packaging from the discarded albums of other artists, each CD is independently recycled by the artists: