. issue XIX : iv .

by barathron

. artist : ilkae .
. album : incidental guilt jazz .
. year : 2007 .
. label : eerik inpuj .
. grade : a .


Incidental Guilt Jazz presents seven-years’ worth of “orphaned tracks and strays released” by experimental electronic duo Ilkae, and it’s an adroit, even spiffy masterpiece of diverse stylings. It effervesces skittering squeegee beats, turntable levity, tape grumbles, many-stranded symphonic baths, lilting melodic sways, chiptune-metal fusion, lancing static, discordant wine glass plunks, card dealer beats splayed out fast and shallow, hackneyed soundtracks, bells and gongs, and electronic stutters that break to skid.

“Appelsap Packing Slip” has lasers and lightning in a shootout of gulping beats, a warbly, vacillating melody line, and fun little scratches that add texture. It’s the perfect introduction to this masterpiece of quirkiness.

“Machinedrum Tapejam” is a skanky kind of mess, dropping an assertive 90’s beat that sounds like an overactive music box, subverting to a spindly bridge, then rounding out again from a drawn out rolling pin through the dough of the song. It’s spacy and cybernetic, a sort of circuit board hip that becomes personalized with a “yo” sample: flavorful in a chill traipsing melody of bouncy beats. The tape seems to drip to titrated death at the end.

“Flaurent” is more discrete, bleepier, and melancholic, creating an interesting tension between morose and optimistic at once. There’s a tension, but the song might be too slow to make it productive.

“Pilve” is all tweets and beeps (beeps that sound like someone actually saying “beep”), the crunch of a single line of static thudding the ground, and a daffy duck beat from side-of-mouth.

“Intimidate Intimate Inmate” is both funny and sinister; my favorite part is that the ‘id’ is dropped first. Indeed it does sound like a late-80’s chip soundtrack to Prison Dilemma The Game, which is equal parts terrible and precocious.

“Brown (Lofi)” is a computer swank coffee shop hang out, conversant bleeps surrounded by streams of steaming vapor and a warm divan ambience.

“Equate With Oxen (Slow)” is a bouncy, twinkly, funky combination of all sorts of moods; it’s also not particularly slow, har. Both idealized and sentimental, “Oxen” deploys lifelike elements (synth runs) against cold mechanisms (a sharp and buzzing beat, scintillating impacts).

“Elve_” begins with symphonic washes of many timbres, both ambient and ostentatious (as with the trill at the one-minute mark). Incidental Guilt Jazz begins to feel like incidental music here, finally. After the sheer rambunctiousness of everything that’s come before, it’s a relief. Pattery sounds, a Carl Sagan’s Cosmos shimmer and ocarina become sound track tacky — hurrah!

“Pro Lease Crease” is not kidding. It begins concretely with a tape unraveling; then “go,” “go,” “go” samples lead to a staggering sway against A Tribe Called Quest-esque beats: lots of light, agile, sharp stutters. A bumbling pseudo melody dawdles throughout the elegant drum break. Characterized by slick, big statements and lithe turntabalism, both Ilkae’s small and big movements shine.

“Piano Curse (By Proswell)” is a sly spiral staircase after a party gone awry: with a twizzled harpsichord, fanned out feedback, and wine glass cries (spoons, breaths) over a crushing shuffle beat. “Piano” turns abruptly into a fusion wormhole journey of late-70’s phew, great drum kit moments locking the piece down for its infestation with static.

“100600” evokes fountains at night, glass and marble in an open courtyard cloister. Combining the precious resonance of bells (all shapes and sizes) with creepy chittering of the night, this piece obliquely manages delicate but glacial psychological siftings.

“Farine Five Roses” is the only piece on Incidental that is ‘ambient-as-usual,’ but it’s refreshing after the creative onslaught. The listener’s experience concludes in a baptismal space, a verdant valley mere stretches from the sky where timpani underneath elevate the plateau, and underwater, in cauldron lakes, mermaids call.

Incidental Guilt Jazz is an excellently personable and creatively profound experience so meticulous that I can’t imagine anything less incidental. It’s a remarkable showing of quodlibet — and these are just the orphans! I don’t know yet if Ilkae form more consistent statements in a monolithic full-length, but it might be hard to top Incidental for coherency. Though the collection is dispersed across genres both within- and between-songs, but the personality behind them remains exuberant in that whiz-kid way, and there’s no truer expression of total rapport between creator and listener. Highly recommended.

by Brittany Tracy