The Powys, Wales experimental pop outfit Islet relishes their status as an unabashedly independent band. They're more likely to communicate through their 'zine The Isness than through social media; vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Emma and Mark Daman Thomas have kept their day jobs; and their free-flowing mix of psych, folk, electronic, and indie rock changes from release to release. On 2012's Illuminated People and the following year's Released from the Movement, their wild-eyed sound evoked the likes of Gang Gang Dance and Animal Collective. Beginning with 2016's Liquid Half Moon EP, however, Islet's music took on a more cohesive feel, a direction that continued with 2020's ambitious and affecting full-length Eyelet.
Islet formed in 2009, when brothers and former Attack + Defend members John Thomas and Mark Daman Thomas began jamming with Emma Daman Thomas, previously of the Victorian English Gentlemens Club. After a handful of gigs as a trio, they added guitarist/drummer/vocalist Alex Williams, a former member of Fredrick Stanley Star, to the fold. The band generated interest with their live shows, which featured extended jams and instrument-swapping between members, and Islet issued a flurry of short releases in 2010. That January, they made their recorded debut with Bento #6, an installment in Turnstile Records' Bento singles series. A track from that single, "Jasmine," appeared on that June's mini-album, Celebrate This Place. Recorded in a Mid Wales barn by the band, it earned acclaim for the way it captured Islet's spontaneous live sound on record. Following a U.K. tour that included dates at festivals such as Truck, Latitude, and Green Man, that October Islet issued Wimmy, another self-recorded mini-album that the group created in an old rehearsal room in Cardiff.
While Islet worked on their debut album in 2011, they compiled their mini-albums as the Japanese and European release Celebrate This Place with Me. They also issued This Fortune, a single backed by a collage of found sounds recorded in locales ranging from Tren??n, Slovakia to Cardiff. Ranging from psych-rock to post-punk to fuzzy lo-fi, Illuminated People arrived in January 2012 on Islet's own Shape Records and earned significant praise for its experimentation, including a place on the shortlist for that year's Welsh Music Prize. The band took a slightly different approach on their second album, October 2013's Released by the Movement, a more kinetic and eclectic set of songs that came bundled with issues of the group's long-running Isness 'zine.
Following Released by the Movement, Islet took some time off and resurfaced with November 2016's Liquid Half Moon, an EP with a more streamlined sound than their previous work. In 2019, they signed to Fire Records and issued the single "Clouds," a song inspired by Emma Daman Thomas' pregnancy. "Clouds" also appeared on Islet's third album, March 2020's Eyelet. Their first work as the trio of Mark and Emma Daman Thomas and Alex Williams, the album's more tempered and cohesive sound reflected the changes in their lives: Williams lost his mother, while the Daman Thomases welcomed their second child. ~ Heather Phares