Ilana Bryne - Strange Adventure (Naive, 2020)
Come meander through the amazing musical mind of Ilana Bryne, as she serves up four cuts of excellence that will last in the memory long after listening.
To mix and blend and delve and dive within a record, it takes a significant amount of thought, application and creative license, and that for some comes very naturally indeed. Over the course of an EP or LP, we see varying threads and lines of inquiry begin to weave together, keen to demonstrate what a hybridised sound can become and develop into, a fundamental understanding of how to blend and conceive a sound with such natural vision that we immediately connect with the music and everything it has to say. The message is often hinted at during the intro, before taking the time to speak to us over the course of a few minutes, its depth crafting a narrative that remains unbelievably deep and profound, something that acts like a chapter in the most intriguing of stories, a snapshot of dialogue within the mightiest of tomes. To have such a refined style is always something to relish, particularly one that prioritises dynamics as much as overall progressions, as we are continually greeted with musical qualities that move and groove with the times, never standing still but adding further to the compulsion of time and space. We get drawn to these kind of artists inherently out of a need to experience their quests for sonic perfection and balance, as they seek to find their optimised sound via the creation of mind bending records that keep the listener on their toes. Its as much an evolution for the musician behind it as it is a revolution in our minds, as we get blown away by what they have to offer whilst they become content in their exploration of their sound, furthering both our interest and engagement in it whilst also fuelling their ambition and drive to explore every facet of their sound. Like a universe of sound that opens up each time, we are greeted with a spectrum of feel and tone that gives over so much to the listener, a notion seeped in what has come before with a unique twist that helps to define what is to follow. A morphing sound is always one that gives over the best kind of musical experience, when the artist has spent the time in creating creative boundaries that are set far and wide in order to provide themselves with the room to grow and explore, where we as listeners can imprint ourselves in the sonics and feel alive as a result. We all need artists around to get excited by, to feel immersed in their flows and movements, an overarching theory and mood to get locked into before being whisked away down a rabbit hole of never ending goodness, content in the fact that we remain in good hands.
Ilana Bryne might be only commenced her discography, but the signs all point to a brilliant career that will contain many, many highlights. Her sound is somewhat across the board in terms of genres and styles, but its the little things that bind the motions together which help to make her music really sing, and its these elements that help to bind listeners into the unfurling excellence. Operating within a deep house melodic range, the styles groove between UK Garage, techno, breaks and house, pieced together by really inventive textures and overall vibes that translate themselves extremely well between cuts, helping to build up an overall picture of euphoric well being and refreshing excitement. Bryne's sound already feels extremely well defined, defined in a sense that her creative parameters feel very loose and flexible, but the core rhythms of the sound remain grounded in some kind of core foundation, allowing for varying creative flows to revolve within each track. This set up pays enormous dividends, as each release provides a wonderfully dynamic set of tracks that can play out for a near endless set of contexts, their emotive depth really shining through as something to feel excited about and get involved within, and therein remains the heart of the matter. Not only do Bryne's tracks play out with a kind of beautifully composed elegance, but there's no shortage of technical excellence, with the production value always exceedingly high, allowing for the various tones and textures to really shine, and also to provide focus to all the little pieces that reside underneath the chords and keys. Its a killer combo, and that is why a lot of love has already gone her way in terms of just how damn good and intelligent her music is, with so many facets to point out and get involved within. Her debut EP, 2019's 'Low Earth Orbit', that was released on Violet's Naive imprint, showcased so much of Bryne's sound and how she looks to craft and compose tracks, with a rhythmic thread that tread the line between the aforementioned genres, with so many surprises along the way in a melodic sense. There were moments of bombastic floor destroying brilliance, to areas of quiet and intricate reflection, through to dynamic flows that run right over your heart and soul, there really is a lot to marvel at in its enriching soundscape. As debuts go, it was a real statement of intent, with a follow up cut being contributed to the excellent 'Never A Land Without People Vol II' compilation from earlier this year, that showed a more stripped back but equally gripping dub techno/house tinged style, with a diving chordal structure that really gets its hooks into you. Needless to say, Ilana Bryne is a name to keep your eye on, and with releases such as these, there is very good reason to. Have a gander back through and get up to date with her works, you really won't regret it.
And now we arrive at her latest offering, 'Strange Adventure', that lands once again on the Naive label. Much of what was set up in the debut EP remains, the compelling emotive melodic features, the expertly composed beat structures, and the overall vibe remains very much one of euphoric tenderness, and this remains down to the forward thinking parameters that Bryne has set for herself. Her musical approach allows for a continual tinkering and revolving feel to her releases, a deep set spectrum of sound that means anything remains possible, a unravelling style that incorporates features of many established genres into a pool of creativity and imagination. On this new record, the four cuts across the board will leave you a little bit taken back in terms of their elegance and totality, with progressions that leave the heart wanting and the mind left so very fulfilled. To top it all off, we see a remix by the iconic producer Russell E.L Butler thrown into the mix, so what more is there to say really! Other than, lets dive into this record....
Up first comes 'Exclusive Shit Holds No Weight', and we emerge into a sea of lush vibrant sounds. The chords remain full and dense, providing a backdrop for the lite breaky drums to roll around the fringes, as the kicks immediately join in with the forward momentum, as varying drum elements and features look to get in on proceedings. Bryne then cuts it all out to provide a immediate break in the flow, a dynamic whoosh that then expertly leads right back into the flow, and its quite something to see this track in full flow. The manner in which the kicks keep the pulse but act in contrast to the network of vibrancy on top, like two flows of discharge in a cascading river, its an intoxicating rhythm that you just cannot deny. The melodic features get fleshed out with additional keys adding further to the progression and all its compulsion, and the structure is allowed to play out for a few more bars before descending once again into the breakdown, acting like a reference point for the cut to pick itself up again, and that is exactly what happens as we move once more into the sequence. The chords move a bit further back into the track, allowing for the focus to remain on the bouncing key lines and light stabs, all of which act like one unit in driving the track forward. Absolutely brilliant. Up next comes 'I Used To Love T.H.E.M.', and we arrive into a distinctly jazzy house groove, with a soft singular chord to match. The drums begin off fairly dense before moving along into a even more rhythmically rich sequence, one that sees congas and toms added into the mix, with a deep bass line aligning itself within proceedings very well indeed. The singular chord, soft and gentle amongst this sea of groove, then starts to vary a bit, providing more compulsion as things move onwards and upwards, which begins as the backdrop becomes flooded with a backdrop chord line that creates a real sense of unending depth. Its such an engaging flow, the production value as mentioned allows for every single element to be taken in with ease and delight, and just as we begin to loose ourselves in the groove, Bryne introduces the first breakdown which helps to shine a light on the melodic features, which then builds right up back into the full on force. Additional key sequences begin to make themselves known as the track passes us by with such grace and purity, as an acidic key line worms its way up from the depths and into the mix, its presence acting alongside the pre-existing chord structure so very well indeed. There's time for one more moment of rhythmic emptiness, before the cut picks itself up and travels forward, content in the knowledge of giving us one hell of a ride. Beautiful ain't the word, that song truly sings.
'Theoretical Medical Genitals' arrives next, and we land in deeper waters with this one. The kick opens this one up with the gradually build synth in the backdrop, as the drums start to develop with new elements joining the momentum with each passing second. The way in which the chord gradually builds up in presence is something to really marvel at, its tone and feel growing with a real level of care attached to its development, with time taken to allow it to breathe and infuse itself with the track. All the while this is going on, another acid tinged key sequence starts to dive and dip throughout the main crux of the track, as sonically laden swells look to capture further our attention, which is already as locked in as it could be by this point. The first breakdown leads to much of the melodic features being stripped away in favour of demonstrating the power of the groove at its core, leaving the drums and the key sequence to do their thing in pushing things forward, with this structure flowing for a few bars before we swing right back into the melodic fullness, and the way it builds once more is magical. We move right into an abyss of light and sound, the groove now reaching its highest peak, its crowing glory, all the moments and sequences in the track feel like it was building to this perfect moment. Glorious. To wrap things up, we have the Russell El Butler Booty Mix of the previous cut, and we see the drums lead the way on this one. The kicks are placed in fast paced clusters, with a hazy cymbal providing a brilliant rhythmic contrast to their energy, as the main chord driver begins to make its presence known. The drumming patterns quickly evolve in terms of complexity, with little snares probing around the beat constantly, with the soft pulse like bass line acting as a primary reference for elements to come in and out of view. Things quickly build from here as menacing sounds emerge from the depths of the track, with the drumming becoming more frantic and moody, the tone of the track very organically flowing into this new side of proceedings. Butler does an excellence job here at crafting a new tone entirely, taking lead from Bryne and her ability to subtly weave atmospheres into her work, with the remix adding another chapter to this already engrossing piece of music, and we couldn't be any more for it. What a way to end.
Bryne really explores a new side to her sound on this record, with so much that goes on in the slightest of ways meaning you will continually come back to this record for days on end. The progressions are absolutely stellar, the mood and environment one of constant engagement, the value of crafting atmosphere really showing on this record, as per Bryne's previous works, alongside creating tracks that allow the listener to really get involved. Everything just shines and exudes through, with nothing left behind or left wanting, with a balance between dynamics and layering that we haven't really come across before. Therein lies the beauty of this record - with each passing second you feel more involved, more in tune to whats going on, never for a second feeling left behind or lost, just happy to flow along with the expertly timed progressions and dips and rises in energy. Each track provides a new context to get within, a new side to a sound that we cannot wait to see grow and develop, to a new place that feels familiar yet always has scope to grow and groove. One of the EPs of the year, for sure.
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