Isan: Descette

Given the time-worn creakiness of their respective sounds, electronic acts such as The Boats and Isan seem like such a natural fit for the cassette format, it's a wonder there hasn't been a whole slew of releases of that kind from the groups. Isan duo Antony Ryan and Robin Saville right that wrong (in part) with Descette, a recording of analogue cassette loop music that's surprisingly not issued on cassette but as a one-sided twelve-inch EP (sporting an attractive hand screen-printed cover, it's available in a limited edition of 200 copies).

Though Isan's tracks are customarily lovely, finely crafted miniatures, Descette takes that to a further extreme in squeezing seven pieces into a svelte seventeen-minute running time. There's no shortage of Isan magic on display, however—even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it piece like the opening “Padilion” possesses oodles of charm and the sparkle illuminating “Shack” has got Isan's fingerprints all over it. The cassette dimension of the material surfaces audibly during “Stumble” and “Insufficient Pressure Achieved,” tinkling vignettes whose plaintive warble is wrapped in blankets of hiss, and “Lombo,” whose broken tape stutters feel like they're almost drowning in it. Don't let the release's modest duration fool you into thinking of Descette as an insignificant footnote to the Isan story. In its own way, it's as integral a part of the picture as any of the group's full-lengths.

April 2013