January 21, 2021
(Ninja Tune)The Northern Irish bloggers-turned-DJs-turned-producers kick over the dinner-party table with an album that matches the scope and ambition of 90s dance artists
Bicep: Isles review | Alexis Petridiss album of the week
The progression from record collector to DJ to artist is a common one in dance music: the difference with Northern Irish duo Bicep is they have done it all in public. They first emerged 12 years ago among a plethora of late-noughties bloggers devoted to digging up musical obscurities of varying hues and presenting them to the public. Their Feel My Bicep blog began as a means of keeping in touch with record-collecting Friends from Belfast who’d gone off to university. Within a couple of years, it was attracting 100,000 visitors a month, and begat a DJing career, a Rinse FM radio show, a record label, a succession of remixes and productions and, ultimately, a deal with Ninja Tune, the venerable dance label run by Coldcut, who presumably recognised kindred spirits.
The early posts on their blog are long gone, but you get a flavour of its eclecticism from a mammoth 67-hour-long Bicep playlist on Spotify, where Angie Stone rubs shoulders with Aphex Twin and Odyssey, and the Ohio Players coexist with 90s house, punishing Basic Channel techno, drum’n’bass and the new wave of jazz. It doesn’t feel a million miles removed from the kind of eclectic musical connections Coldcut made on their celebrated 70 Minutes of Madness mix album and Solid Steel radio show in the mid-90s.
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