Robin Saville and Antony Ryan's releases as ISAN are characterized by simple rhythms, pop-inflected song structures, and strong, committedly analog melodies. Originally from Reading, England, the duo emerged from the electronica underground in the mid-'90s at a time when groups like Autechre and Aphex Twin were bringing increasing levels of abstraction and disjunction to electronic post-techno. Dodging that approach, ISAN joined artists such as Solvent, B. Fleischmann, Sweden's Pluxus, and Krautrock-electronica fusionists To Rococo Rot in making their music warm, inviting, and accessible.
Like many of those artists, ISAN (perhaps inadvertently) drew on the '70s and '80s electronic experiments of Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Jean-Michel Jarre, early new wave, and Another Green World-era Brian Eno. Releases on indie-hybrid labels like Static Caravan, Liquefaction Empire, and Foundary -- among them several limited-edition and hard-to-find 7"s -- earned ISAN a crossover audience from the start. The group's profile got a boost in 1999 when it contributed a remix of Seefeel's "When Face Was Face" to the Warp label's tenth anniversary release Remixes. Several albums for Morr Music followed, including 2001's Lucky Cat, 2004's Meet Next Life, and 2006's Plans Drawn in Pencil. Saville remained in England and Ryan set up a base in Sweden, although the pair continued to tour and collaborate. A longer gap separated Plans Drawn in Pencil from their followup, 2010's Glow in the Dark Safari Set, although the warm analog melodies of their earlier material remained a staple. ~ Sean Cooper