A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Illuvia’s Iridescence Of Clouds for the increasingly essential A Strangely Isolated Place is a gorgeous slice of ambient drum ‘n bass worldbuilding.
Yr hovership descends, swooping in on a rose quartz pearl of a world. At first, a solid sheet of sheeplike clouds, an antigravity world of shapes and rainbows. As you continue yr descent, the vapour dissipates, revealing a populous world beneath you, busy but peaceful.
These are just a few of the images that might flash upon yr mind in the first few minutes of “Iridescence,” the sublime album opener of Iridescence Of Clouds from the consistently prolific Ludvig Cimbrelius under his Illuvia imprint, where he regularly investigates the intersection of Ambient music and other dance genres. While 2019’s Millia had Cimbrelius performing a similar feat, fusing classic Ambient tones and textures with dub techno, Iridescence Of Clouds weaves together gauzy, hazy endless Eno pads with modern liquid drum ‘n bass or neurofunk. Both are greatly enhanced by the splicing, with the d’n’b made more warm and inviting via the shimmering, glowing pads – all of which are held together by a strate of growling, sucking sub-bass, like a sprawling tar pit spewing up little puffs of steam.
For many shades of electronic music, especially anything geared towards the dancefloor in any capacity, it needs to work on 3 different fronts. First, there’s the sound design, as you need to want to hear a producer’s synths and samples in the first place. It also needs to work as music, so songwriting comes into play. And then there’s the DJ’s instinct towards the dancefloor, knowing how to ratchet up tension and how to deliver the sweet release when the beat drops. Ludvig Cimbrelius is truly a master of all three, and it’s stunning to see, pulling you in and casting you under Iridescence Of Cloud‘s hypnotic pall. It all comes together with a tidy little bow with a mastering job from The Sight Below’s Rafael Anton Irissarri, one of the true living masters of 21st Century ambient music. Under Irissarri’s fingers and faders, Iridescence Of Clouds becomes a misty, mystical world of alien beauty, warm and inviting as a sauna, as a childhood memory, as a mother’s embrace.
Iridescence Of Clouds brings to mind progressive electronic albums of the ’90s, most notably something from The Orb, whose psychedelic soundworlds often verged on concept albums. Illuvia’s newest has a similar cohesion, a narrative through-thread that ties the whole thing together without having to succumb to expository spoken samples or musical cues. Instead it’s just an inviting, immersive world that invites repeat visitations – your own private Narnia or levitating cloud city.
Iridescence Of Clouds is one of the most accomplished cross-genre hybrids i’ve heard in a hot minute. While i often appreciate the sound design and endless barrage of ideas of modern d’n’b, i find its production too often uncomfortably harsh, like shards of jagged porcelain, about as relaxing as getting acupuncture on yr eardrum. Forget liquid d’n’b, this is steam drum and bass, gentle and airy while still being enervating and exciting. It’s truly the best of all worlds and worlds within worlds and, honestly, it’s a thrilling start to 2021.
Los Angeles’ A Strangely Isolated Place has become simply unmissable, dishing out jaw-dropping works of electronic imagination and stunning quality. Add the fact that Iridescence Of Clouds is available as a stunning transparent purple 2xLP (which i hope to procure and may write up again, once i get my claws into one), this is a trip you’ll want to take again and again, dropping the needle and descending into a world of wonder and inspiration.
Iridescence Of Clouds is out now on A Strangely Isolated Place.Iridescence Of Clouds by Illuvia