Music | Album Review – Illum Sphere

Music | Album Review – Illum Sphere

Illum Sphere
Ghosts of Then and Now
4/5

Once we have confronted the Ghosts of Then and Now there is only dread. Fear for what is yet to come, the ghosts of later, if you will. It’s this dread that drives much science fiction, by accepting our world now as is, a future is extrapolated and with it so are new ghosts, new fears, dread. Illum Sphere’s debut album is never overtly science fiction but the mood it provokes is consistent with the genre.

This dread is mostly facilitated by Illum Sphere’s use of simple piano motifs and ghostly vocal samples, the former dispatched in such a manner that sounds as though they’re somehow lingering in a fog, just beyond our field of vision.

In the foreground however are meaty Vangelis-like bass lines, indeed the soundtrack for Bladerunner seems like it may have been a reference point for the record particularly on the excellent ‘Sleeprunner’ (which may well have been named for the film). The album also features jazzier moments, like ‘Near the End’ with its wonderful piano solo,  a instance of light on an otherwise dark album.

But last track ‘Embryonic’ is by far the most hopeful, the sample around which it is built is as a prayer for a new beginning, later joined by a shimmering synthesizer which grows with our hope. Inevitably it ends prematurely, the prayer remains unanswered. Make peace with the Ghosts of Then and Now while you can for dread cannot be escaped.

Daoud Al-Janabi

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