Boomkat Product Review:
Bathhouse ambient alchemist Jake Muir phase shifts to Ilian Tape for his headiest set yet - a re-imagining of the illbient genre that sublimes loose turntablism and fritzed industrial fuzz into haunted trace elements and gooey, tactile drones. One for fans of everyone from DJ Spooky and QBert to Pendant and Akira Rabelais. Next level!
An artist laser-focused on the art of sampling - his 2018 album 'Lady's Mantle' was extracted from chopped up surf rock - Muir has long been passionate about the illbient canon. 'Mana' is his opportunity to finally throw his hat into the ring, and he takes a crate digger's approach - hardly surprising considering his mixes are as essential as his full-lengths. Using barely-recognizable debris lifted off illbient milestones, Muir sculpts a modernist simulacrum without losing the source material's mineral sparkle. Looking to unbutton and untuck Ambient sterotypes and instead highlight its tactile sensuality, illbient becomes the perfect vessle for Muir to straddle, echoing DJ Olive and DJ Spooky's desire to disrupt the 'background music' chintziness of 1970s ambient with the hands-on wizardry of hip-hop turntablism and knob-twiddling dub-rave tweakage.
The NYC-born movement was misunderstood back in the 1990s, but since then its vaporous traces have slipped into the experimental consciousness completely without fanfare. Taking Eno or Varese records and blending them with King Tubby and Ruffige Kru 12"s was novel then, but now feels foundational at a time when genre and aesthetic identity is in constant flux. Understanding this, Muir keeps raked-over referencing to a minimum, cooking down sounds to a dubbed-out mush of psychedelic synapse spasms and evocative drones. It's blink-and-you'll-miss-it stuff, commenting on a sound from decades ago without lapsing into sentimentalist nostalgia. Instead we're left with the gestures that makes Illbient an interesting proposal: the pitch fluctuation of vinyl, the hectic clashing of polar musical methodology, the heightened awareness that prioritizes sensation over repetition.
When Caveman LSD - aka uon, Special Guest DJ etc - emerges on the gloopy 'Forest Of Whispers' it makes total sense. His Experiences Ltd. / bblisss curation and output is firmly tied to illbient, with its almost eroticised fusion of dub, rave and ambient strands. Muir makes these connections vivid, and nods to avant practitioners like Christian Marclay, Philip Jeck and Marina Rosenfeld simultaneously. It's musical heavy lifting that's as listenable as it is thematically on-point; to put it another way, it's a sex soundtrack you could write an academic paper on, if you felt like it.