Wednesday, 16 December 2009

RECOMMENDED: Illum Sphere – Long Live The Plan [Fat City]

With his first vinyl EP, the aptly named ‘Incoming EP,’ Ryan Hunn's Illum Sphere project caught our attention, so much so we interviewed him about his processes after hearing the record in full about twice. Choosing to compose on completely analogue equipment – his myspace photographs show a desk littered with red LED bearing samplers and grooveboxes – he manages to inject his productions with a bleak, machine hummed venom. And it’s definitely the case on this, the first in a two part vinyl album, with third track ‘Psycho’ offering the first moment of ‘melody’ on the EP; if you can call the confused plonking of a glockenspiel underneath torrents of electro current just that.

What precedes it is a swamp of static and swooping strings on ‘Long Live The Plan…’ and ‘Better Late State,’ a slow pulsing snare crackler reminiscent of LA beat smith Ras G with whom Hunn seems to share a holy-atmospheric kinship. The Illum Sphere world of awkwardly slipping beats over thick, often bleak backdrops and minimalistic arrangements is as dense as any of the beats contorting themselves out of laptops in dark Californian clubs, but his music doesn’t scream about its golden sun tan as much. His music is darker, more rabid and paranoid than some of his US contemporaries and its this edge that keeps you going back once you’ve connected to the lopsided snare pattern and swirling lambaste of ‘Never Lie Twice.’

‘Chasing The Midnight Moth’ is undoubtedly the EP’s centerpiece, crackling into earshot with quicker snatches of percussion and simple one note keys that ooze atmosphere, pursing up into waves of distortion propelled by the ride cymbals before the settled rhythm returns, each time easing things back into the groove with aplomb. Shadowman furthers the sense of calm amongst a sound palette seasoned heavily with grain, as the the four four kick drum and cymbal spray pulses under an impossible to tame synth line that conjours up a little of that arpeggiated Zomby madness.

Completed with a Samiyam remix of ‘Psycho’ which reconstructs the simple kick/snare loop into a more of a tumble, adding those enlightening chord stabs and woozy elements of G-funk that Samiyam does so well, ‘Long Live The Plan’ is a deft and clever follow up to such an emphatic debut 12”. Building his productions sensibly and planning the tracklist like you would a journey up through moods its easy to hear what people like Martyn (whose commissioned Hunn to remix his ‘Brilliant Orange’ track) are starting to take notice of.

Words: Oli Marlow
Out: Now @ Boomkat


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