BICEP VS 'YOU/DON'T" EP REVIEW

aus no click

Belfast-born, London-based tag team Bicep continue their ascendancy in today's house music circles with their most high-profile release to date, on UK tastemaker Will Saul's esteemed Aus imprint. You, made alongside fellow Northern Irish producer Ejeca, is reminiscent of Darwin, released on Throne of Blood this time last year, albeit a more controlled, mature affair. Dramatic, swirling synths coax the listener in, joined soon after by a rhythmic assortment of hi-hats and a thick, pulsating bassline. Interestingly, not a 4/4 kick drum in sight. As tension subtly builds, in comes the impassioned, ever unintelligible, female vocal, quick to establish itself as the record's lead and dominant component. Now forming a potent, cohesive whole, the track sets about further increasing the intensity, until finally it all gives way. The swirling synths vanish leaving nothing but a new, catchy percussive line and the unravelled vocal, which now at least appears to form an entire, still unquestionably emotive, sentence. The climactic power and intensity of this moment is striking. As the track draws to a close it retreats back into its original, ethereal shell; the only thing left to do is to start it again.

If You was Bicep's sentimental side poking through, then Don't (made in conjunction with Omar Odyssey, of Waze & Odyssey and Serge Santiago fame) conveys their 90s house inspired party-boy antics. The Stripper to their Darwin, so to speak. An extremely weighty, low-slung kick-bass combination drives the record, framed by a selection of various, tampered vocal excerpts and a long, drawn out synth line. A 30 second breakdown further displays Bicep's expert ability at building suspense, without ever feeling the need to overload the eventual drop. In this instance, rising synths and frantic chirps are stripped away, leaving the track's pervasive, solid groove to do its thing. This record isn't complicated and although much less ornate than You it works just as well within its own, more thumping, dance-floor context.

Closing the release, and on official remix duty, Panorama Bar's Steffi makes You her own, transporting it from its standalone, unique context and placing it within a more recognisable and considerably deeper setting. Essentially, she keeps elements of the vocal, adds a 4/4 and gives it the trademark Steffi bounce, all set against a backdrop of undulating, aurally gratifying synths. After the intensity and pounding purveyed by the previous two tracks, this closes the EP in a serene, pleasant manner. While props must be given to Ejeca, Omar Odyssey and Steffi for the parts they played, the plaudits must go to Bicep for expertly and coherently demonstrating just how versatile and interesting a pair of producers they are. Bicep have come of age; the future looks promising.