Stories of Old
Anders Ilar returns with his first artist album since Sworn appeared on Level (Kompakt) in 2008. Curated and sequenced by Ilar and Yard, Stories of Old finds the Swedish producer serving up six rich, full-bodied tracks of rhythm-based electronica supplemented by remixes from Adam Johnson and Yard. There's a techno dimension present, but Ilar's clearly hunting bigger game than stripped-down club bangers with the recording's focus as much on deep tracks heavy on mystical atmosphere. His originals are polished astral-travelers that sometimes meld the finer elements of electronic dance and listening forms into a single, personalized style; one such example, “Unfold,” graces the recording with a bottom end thrust that's markedly offset by spacey washes of sparkle and glimmer.Opener “Carving Wooden Hearts” exudes a menacing stalker vibe in its atmospheric, bass-prodded blend of mid-tempo beat crunch and synthetic windstorms, while “Arcturus” opts for spectral mystery, with beats awash in grandiose swathes of synthetic colour. In certain cases, extreme contrast accrues from particular juxtapositions. On the one hand, we have a track such as “Cries of the Wilderness” showing off Ilar's groove-centric side, with the still heavily atmospheric design taking a back seat to a restlessly percolating rhythm attack. Stylistically diametric to it is “Heliopause,” which drops the beats altogether for a seven-minute ambient cruise through the upper galaxies where speckles pop amidst gaseous clouds. Ilar follows the light-footed, fleet banger “Unconditional Surrender” with makeovers by Johnson and Yard, the first of which stokes a hip-shaking groove into a seriously infectious club raver and the second an epic, techno-based pounder crafted by the label head himself. While contrast accounts for part of the recording's appeal, Stories of Old also appeals on grounds of concision. The unfussy manner by which Ilar rolls out his six originals and two remixes provides a choice model that other producers would do well to imitate.