One of Manchester and the UK’s most cherished, Iceboy Violet blazes thru on a debut album of killer, dare-to-differ grime and reeling stream-of-consciousness rap with production and contributions from Space Afrika, Emily Glass, Jennifer Walton, Slikback, Nick Leon, Mun Sing, Blackhaine, Daemon, Orlandor, Exploited Body and aya/LOFT - finally released via Finn’s label - BIG RIYL aya, Arca, Blackhaine, Eartheater, Mykki Blanco.
After rising to prominence over the past five years via arresting live performances, cult self-releases, and guest credits for peers including Eartheater, Loraine James, and Blackhaine, 2022 is set to be the year that Iceboy Violet properly breaks thru with ‘The Vanity Project’. As a pivotal figure in Manchester’s nightlife economy, Iceboy Violet has come to represent the city’s enviably open-minded approach to club music, swaggering across outmoded boundaries with a wickedly skewed balance of upfront and road-level aesthetics countered by more oblique, enigmatic urges to self-expression. They share much in common with longtime spar, aya, not least their roles in queer-dominated collective boygirl, but also credits on the world-taking ‘Im hole’ LP of 2021 and a mold-shattering take on UK club and electronics, however ‘The Vanity Project’ is where Iceboy Violet really knocks us out with an unabashed lyrical confidence wrapped to rudely brittle and noisily damaged grime productions.
The seven tracks bleed a pent, irradiating energy that feels like we’re properly in the c.21st. Warping and buckling the templates of grime - this century’s most vital UK innovation - they effectively mirror the difference between original rock and its punk antecedents, covering the distance travelled from the formative touchstone with a helplessly mutant spin on its fundamentals. From the gripping insight of ‘Urban Ambient’ to the valdo-melted brilliance of ‘Atone/Blankface’, it's really special, innovative stuff, messing with convention at every turn from the Enya-goes-drill bewt ‘Are U Connected’ thru the bittersweet pucker of IDMelody and gurned grime in ‘Lilith’ starring Blackhaine, to the unmistakably hungry and raw highlight of the title track, and a scudding sort of nod to soca/singeli/congo tekno styles on ‘Antiskeptic’, with Croww-adjunct, talons-out noise in ‘Deathdrive’.
Fucking gwarn then. Unmissable.