CD, Dars Records, 2006
From the depths of Russia (seriously, look up Chelyabinsk) comes a fascinating release consisting of sticky, Autechre-inspired IDM and glitch. Though perhaps not the most unique or cutting-edge project to be classified as such, what ILI has accomplished with “Ask Me: What Is It?” is nevertheless arresting in its abstract, polyrhythmic quality. Both melancholic and otherworldly, this brand of experimental electronic music is rich with melodic timbres and finely manufactured sounds.
Whether limping along like an automaton on crutches (“Bels Uule”), or perhaps skipping and tripping down stairs instead (“For Your” and “Fhrul”), the beats on “Ask Me: What Is It?” are never straightforward. These entropic cadences are like chaotic streams of pebbles – cascading, falling and splashing among rocks and sand, rippling and reverberating like water. The fractured beats are overlaid with lush, breathy atmospherics (“Gate To Siberia”), disembodied vocal snippets (“Kren” and “Recuno”), and insectile grooves that crawl above, below and through finely molded minutiae (“Terevaz” and “Sabl”). It is deeply penetrating, psychedelic music.
With each successive listen, “Ask Me: What Is It?” becomes synonymous with ILI’s attentiveness to motion and detail. Concerning these attributes, the album remains steadfast in its glitchy dedication. Insect metaphors continue to be appropriate in describing the contrasting delicate-versus-substantial elements of the music’s varying inflections, whether melodic or dissonant. From the trancey synth stabs of the title track, to the infusion of far eastern flavors in both sound and structure (“Massa Ra”), ILI offers a product that delivers guaranteed mind-bending satisfaction, but little more. “Ask Me: What Is It?” feels soulless, and it is anyone’s guess if that is intentional or not.
— Dutton Hauhart