Ilkae: Bring Extra Dragons

Bring Extra Dragons is not only the last Ilkae album scheduled to be issued by Merck but, with Aaron Munson and Krystian Lubiszewski having parted company, the last Ilkae release period. To which we can only say: too bad, given how smoothly this final collection goes down. The material often sounds like the duo spent a day at the local arcade recording their favourite machines and then converted the collected noise into musical form. The results: jubilant electro-pop tunes overflowing with gleefully chattering Gameboy melodies and skittering beats. Occasionally a head-nod vibe underscores the material; at other times, a Plone-like stateliness reigns (“Promenade,” “Canneberge”) and sometimes quietude sets in (“You're A Slow One, Llittle Bear”), though never so much that Ilkae's glittering, keyboard-heavy sound is ever too far away. The duo squeezes so many layers of synth melodies into tracks like “Equate With Oxen” and “Exit Theme & Victory March” one is almost dizzied by the sheer density. The album's all of a piece but “Cinnamon Dragon Blues,” a sweet concoction of gentle melodies and propulsive breaks, stands out as particularly satisfying. In an electronic field that daily grows ever more crowded, it's significant that Ilkae's gleaming sound remains so instantly identifiable. A shame, then, that Bring Extra Dragons is the duo's last hurrah.

November 2006