Modern Aprentice - Ikara Colt
'Influenced by' is possibly the most overused and misunderstood phrases in music. All too often, it simply means 'a pale imitation of..' and that’s why it's a mistake to cite Ikara Colt's influences and simply hope that this would be enough to convey some sense of what they sound like. It wouldn't - they themselves reckon they reside somewhere '...on a line between Joy Division and Motorhead'. Can you imagine a band that sounds like that? They'd be dreadful, wouldn't they, this imaginary band and Ikara Colt reside nowhere on any line that goes anywhere near the dreadful. It’s not that there’s no resemblance between them and these bands they are supposed to sound like. There’s a lot of The Fall in some of Paul Resende’s (vocals) delivery at times, but you please don’t buy this and expect a clone of them or anybody else.
The first two tracks are the singles Wanna Be That Way and Wake In The City which you might have heard by now, if not go and get them at once from the wonderful website; they're great singles, and sound great on club play lists, but they don't really do justice to the bands full range. They're probably not meant to; they're a hook to get you interested and it's great that they're the first two tracks on the album because once they're out of the way, there's much more to enjoy. They're like icebergs, giving hints of hidden depths, but with a whole album to play with, Ikara Colt are capable of creating some sublime musical moments.
There's tension at the heart of this band. A tension, and a sort of coldness and it's the clash between the organic and the machine that give this band its springboard from which to launch their sonic assaults. Perhaps it's best exemplified by Rewind which is structured in such a way that makes the divide very clear indeed. It consists of a series of sharp, machine-like, drum fills that are punctuated by bursts of noise guitar, as though the band is trying to escape from the cold framework they have built for themselves. Or is it that the bursts of noise are punctuated by the sharp drum fills that are trying to bring some sort of order to the anarchic structure? There's the tension, and it depends from what angle you are approaching this from, and that's what makes them so damned interesting.
As soon as you think you have a grip on them, they laugh and twist away into something like Motorway which is a deep, pulsing bass line with stabbing keyboard lines with Claire Ingram's vocals lying over the top. It's machine like, yet organic and free flowing with dance like overtures and then straight into Repro/roadshow/nightmare which sounds like The Fall but still sounds like Ikara Colt at the same time. That stabbing bass line is the heartbeat of this album. It's present on almost every track - sometimes coming to the fore in songs like Modern Feeling which sounds like it's straight from 1979 disco/new wave New York, but if that had happened in, say, Slough - There's no glamour on this album, it's all concrete, pavements, dogshit and rain. "You want to cause a commotion/You want to see it tumble town", from Wake In The City just about sums it up. "Get me out of here", indeed.
What else do you need to know? How about I'm With Stupid is a blast of vitriolic machine rage, as vocalist Resende wheezes ”I’m with stupid/For the rest of my life” over the top. Automatic finishes the album on an experimental note, a fuzz guitar assault that slides into a bonus track (?), a series of barked orders over drum fills. The drummer, whiles we’re on the subject, one Dominic Young, sounds more machine than man. There was once an ill-named rock movement, in vogue in certain circles for a very short while, called 'Math Rock' (check out 'The Poster Children' if ever you get the chance), and it never made sense until now; each drum fill and riff is clinically, precision placed, in the song for maximum effect but still sounds like it's going to break out into absolute mayhem at any moment. You don't really need to know anything else, except perhaps that the album as a whole is as satisfying as a good meal to sit through in it's entirety. Just listen to them as soon as you can and forget your preconceptions, if you have any, this is a very different band from the one that recorded the first album. And go and see them live if they come near you. It's well worth it and there's a live review here.