ince his debut self titled LP release, Jeff Mcilwain has seemingly bought newer equipment each time he steps into the studio to record his next piece of music. Unfortunately, the new equipment that he has bought hasn’t changed the fact that he has been using the same song structures for many of his releases since that debut. The simple melodic buildup, the gradual fade in of electronic production, the adding of different elements, the deletion of others for a period of time, and then the satisfying build up in which all of the elements mix to make one orgasmic confluence of sound. This style of IDM, while a small segment of the production in the genre, has been perfected by both Lusine and Phonem. The gradual build of the six + minute opuses adds a human quality to the distinctly electronic proceedings- fulfilling a very human need for introduction, climax, and epilogue.
On this, his fourth LP release, Mcilwan distorts some of these conventions to create a work that is not, by any means, original, but ends up being more varied in its structures and influences than before.
Of course, you wouldn’t be able to tell that by the opening track, “Blind”, which has all the hallmarks of the classic Lusine sound. A echoed melodic fragment is interwoven nicely with a hip hop rhythm starting off the track in a very mechanistic manner. It reminds of “Coded”, probably one of Mcilwan’s most effective tracks thus far in his career. Mcilwan provides the nice fadeout of the track in the middle, allowing for a triumphant return and then a slow fadeout once more at the end.
It is on the next track that things begin to change. “Invisible” begins with small bells and an almost static ocean wave moving back and forth. Particles of sound begin to emerge, coating the track in different rhythms, with one eventually emerging out of the mire to take over. Finally, a beat emerges moving dirge like across the landscape. With Lusine you might expect a melody to make a quick appearance, in its vaious fragments immediately afterwards. Mcilwan holds off, however, and takes away the beat and gives us a small taste of a melody underneath a haze of tiny electric murmurs and clicks. The track ends with no climax- but ultimately it’s more satisfying.
Contained within this track, as well, it becomes apparent that Mcilwan has advanced far beyond the equipment used on his debut LP. Instead of the outdated sounds of MIDI, we have the rhythmic complexity of DSP and digital confusion caused by other artists that use MAX/MSP. Sounding completely current, it seems that Mcilwan is bound by no aesthetic in terms of equipment, moving to a new instrument once he can properly master it.
Judging the relative worth in the pantheon of IDM, as a genre, is a hard prospect. While he has eschewed the easy emotional underpinnings of his previous works, Lusine has crafted something a bit harder to understand, but much more interesting. While this release will not appeal to popular music fans very much, it remains a solid release of IDM for most listeners of the genre who are looking for something that is both melodic and rhythmically accessible.