Irma Vep is a loner, a joker, a roamer, a ribald construct riddled with both earnest anxiety and mercurial songwriting talent birthed by a young Edwin Stevens in Llanfairfechan, North Wales. Having since fully grown into Irma Vep and now residing in Manchester, Stevens’ discography has expanded to document every aspect of his music, from ecstatically free group experiments to bare, sparse songwriting that cuts to the quick, shorn of ornament or pretence.
Much Irma Vep feels like what ‘classic’ music should feel like if it weren’t so Classic. Each record, each song and each performance exists as an evolving drama. Instant classic The Jerk (Great Pop Supplement) is a case in point. Heightened by Velvets-style violin scrapings and Stevens’ silky guitar improvisations, the song’s real power is the towering insecurity turned into an thrilling, hypnotic storyline. Irma Vep’s latest LP Disappointment (Golden Lab) contains both Stevens’ most wild excursions into avant-guitar landscaping and his most ‘accomplished’ songwriting. The title track flirts with Richard Thompson-esque guitar and rhythms, with Stevens’ cracked vocal recalling a more introspective Bill Callahan, but Irma Vep’s delivery, off-the-cuff and vibrant, is all his own. At other times the listener is taken deep into a wormhole of tranced-out rock music on the fringes of chaos.
Having bedded down into Manchester’s bourgeoning DIY scene, Stevens moonlights in several other groups (Sex Hands, Klaus Kinski, Desmadrados…), bringing with him a instantly recognisable guitar language. However it’s in Irma Vep that his most life-affirming, troubling and thrilling music is made.
– Michael Kasparis, 2015