Ikara Colt: Basic Instructions EP

David Antrobus

Ikara Colt

Basic Instructions EP

Label: Fantastic Plastic
US Release Date: 2003-05-20
UK Release Date: 2002-09-30

PopMatters home
short takes
music archive

Basic Instructions EP
(Epitaph/Fantastic Plastic) 20 May 2003 30 September 2002
by David Antrobus
:. e-mail this article
:. print this article
:. comment on this article

A quartet of snarling English terriers snapping viciously between the wasted skinny legs of the much hyped so-called nü-garage rock saviours (all busily spanning sonic swathes from Sydney to Stockholm by way of the Motor City and NYC), London's Ikara Colt have been described not so much as the Soundtrack of Our Lives than as "the soundtrack to the end of the world".

Flinging art-punk attitude and the kinds of (b)rash assurances (they've vowed to split after five years) that are likely to hoist them on a petard of their own making (that five years has only one year left to run), and arriving on the heels of the well-received full-length Epitaph debut Chat and Business, the Basic Instructions EP was always going to be something of a measuring stick for that other ill-advised statement of intent: "You've got to move forward, otherwise you die creatively." Incorrigible outsiders as they undoubtedly are, Ikara Colt likely don't even care if it measures up or not. But for the rest of us deciding whether to hand over our hard-earned, the answer is a qualified maybe.

The problem is that of five cuts, only three are actually new. "May B 1 Day" from Chat and Business is included here twice. In some ways, except for some crucial moments, this EP is a mere footnote to that record. "Bring It to Me", for instance, does nothing to suggest any evolutionary stirrings; sure, its ferocity is a match for any of their earlier distorted fuzz punk, but "a move forward" it certainly ain't. Ditto "Panic" with its squealing feedback and Rottenisms. These are solid songs mired firmly in the dirty boy/girl mayhem-wreaking vocals, buzzsaw guitars, and driving beats that loosely delineate Sonic Youth territory. Or Fall territory, for that matter. All very kick-ass wise-crackingly authentic. But that, thankfully, isn't all she wrote.

As soon as the first bars of "May B 1 Day #2" arrive with their deep roiling peril, we know other post punk specters are about to be summoned here. A rabid foaming electro bassline last heard on an early Sisters of Mercy 12-inch (but without the overt gothic glee) is joined by Paul Resende's voice (still managing to sound simultaneously like Thurston Moore and Mark E. Smith), some urban bleeps, and a drum pattern too similar to Joy Division's "Isolation" to be coincidence. Resende's (and guitarist Claire Ingram's) distorted, repetitive "all this has to add up" mantra brings a stalking predatory restlessness to this daring remix of the album cut. Their previous spit-and-snarl analog sound has given way to sudden, disorienting robotics. More spacious than the original (also included here, and plenty fine in and of itself), this version hints at something enticingly experimental in the band's future.

The other crucial moment suggestive of an evolutionary leap into creative new areas can be found in the form of "Don't They Know", smack in the middle of the EP. Unlike the more generic punk standards "Bring It to Me" and "Panic", this effort crackles with high-wire ambition on a more dizzying scale. As damn near anthemic as anything Ikara Colt have previously attempted, this tight fusion of all the aforementioned influences with their own snarling brattiness and a more keenly developed melodic vein running (and swelling like it's tourniquet-ed) throughout, "Don't They Know" is an angry yet coherent standout. It's worth hearing for Dominic Young's drumming alone, a veritable blitzkrieg of manic flurries. And when Resende both drawls and spits out lyric snippets like "you don't give a damn" and "they can't touch you now" over Ingram's simple guitar melody and Jon Ball's down-stroked paranoid ("Paranoid"!) bass guitar buttress, you begin to get the feeling this band could go places. Interesting places undreamt of by other leading lights of the so-called guitar-rock renaissance. But they'd better be quick if they really do have only a year in which to get there.





Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".


Contemporary Urbanity and Blackness in 'New Jack City'

Hood films are a jarring eviction notice for traditional Civil Rights rhetoric and, possibly, leadership -- in other words, "What has the Civil Rights movement done for me lately?"


'How to Handle a Crowd' Goes to the Moderators

Anika Gupta's How to Handle a Crowd casts a long-overdue spotlight on the work that goes into making online communities enjoyable and rewarding.


Regis' New LP Reaffirms His Gift for Grinding Industrial Terror

Regis' music often feels so distorted, so twisted out of shape, even the most human moments feel modular. Voices become indistinguishable from machines on Hidden in This Is the Light That You Miss.


DMA's Go for BritElectroPop on 'The Glow'

Aussie Britpoppers the DMA's enlist Stuart Price to try their hand at electropop on The Glow. It's not their best look.


On Infinity in Miranda July's 'Me and You and Everyone We Know'

In a strange kind of way, Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know is about two competing notions of "forever" in relation to love.


Considering the Legacy of Deerhoof with Greg Saunier

Working in different cities, recording parts as MP3s, and stitching them together, Deerhoof once again show total disregard for the very concept of genre with their latest, Future Teenage Cave Artists.


Joshua Ray Walker Is 'Glad You Made It'

Texas' Joshua Ray Walker creates songs on Glad You Made It that could have been on a rural roadhouse jukebox back in the 1950s. Their quotidian concerns sound as true now as they would have back then.


100 gecs Remix Debut with Help From Fall Out Boy, Charli XCX and More

100 gecs' follow up their debut with a "remix album" stuffed with features, remixes, covers, and a couple of new recordings. But don't worry, it's just as blissfully difficult as their debut.


What 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Taught Me About Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

When I first came out as trans, I desperately wanted acceptance and validation into the "male gender", and espoused negative beliefs toward my femininity. Avatar: The Last Airbender helped me transcend that.


Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi Remake "I Am the Antichrist to You" (premiere + interview)

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi team up for a gorgeous live performance of "I Am the Antichrist to You", which has been given an orchestral renovation.


Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.