Lusine’s new album ‘A Certain Distance’ apart from his previous work (see what I did there? :P)

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Right, so it’s been out for *checks claendar* 17 days now, and I’ve only now just put the iPod in the dock and started playing through A Certain Distance, Jeff McIlwain’s latest release under the psuedonym Lusine.

I fell in love with Jeff’s music quite by accident. On sunny day in December two years ago I was in the local Real Groovy store before it shut down *sniff* and they were playing this over the store sound system:

I bought the ‘Podgelism‘ album on the spot and thrashed it in my headphones and my newly acquired car for the next three months. This summer during my fiance’s leave of absence I dug a little (read: a lot) deeper into the McIlwain back catalog, listening through almost all the albums and EPs I simply loves the sounds this guy makes and the way he manipulates them, as well as the intimate, yet expansive atmosphere he pours into his tunes. YouTube doesn’t have a great many examples, but here’s a couple:

Ask You (thanks to ghostlyintl)

Still Frame (thanks to ghostlyintl)

Abaft (thanks to TheSuperInframan)

These and countless otehr songs set the stage for listening to the latest release A Certain Distance

The album opens with Operation Costs which you could say is Classic Lusine. Starting with a lush, wide pad and setting it off with the crispest of crisp upper percussion and the charactersitic rich, deep bassline that makes my iPod dock sound at least twice it’s size. A new slant that’s been taken on this album is towards more vocal use. Serial Hodgepodge, Lusine’s previous album and the remix album Podgelism that followed it both scratched the surface of vocals in a Lusine song with tracks like The Stop and Flat For You, but the tracks on A Certain Distance, inclusing the opener dig much deeper incorportaing full melodies instead of just snippets of vocal

The next track is the first Single off the album, Two Dots, which has already gained airplay on Indiefeed’s electronica podcast. My first impressiom when listening to this track, which I heard about a month prior to the release of the album was that Jeff had hired Minuit’s Ruth Carr to sing the melody, which, while not being fleshed out lyrically, still continues to explore the realms of the lyrically driven song. The vocals are actually performed by  Vilja Larjosto, who I had not heard of until I heard this song. My fiance and I both enjoy this song a lot

Two Dots

Track three, Tin Hat is an instrumental, once again featuring that intimate expanse, and so does Thick Of It, which reintroduces the vocal concept, as well as a synth sound I distinctly remember hearing on Everything Under The Sun

Twilight, the fifth track on the album, and nothing to do with the movie (thanks goodness!) and sees Vilja harmonizing herself on vocals. A nice track, that I can see being put on high rotation in my car alongside Royksopp’s Miss It So Much.

Out of the infinite silence a crisper-than-crisp snare introduces the smooth, but brutal Baffle. On a bigger sound system I (and the rest of my apartment) would feel it through the floor. There’s a bit of guitar work in here. Not quite B308 material, this is much more listenable to the common ear. Although most people’s ears might miss the high (like >6kHz) pitched percussion that takes over as this track progresses, it adds to the intricate detail of the song like silk thread.

The theme of percussive detail continues into what I could have sworn was a rewrite of Make It Easy. It’s actually called Every Disguise, and it’s not too dissimilar to the former, but feels like it’s music for listening to much later in the day, perhaps over a glass of coke waiting for dinner.

The next two tracks are easily my favourites on the album. Double Vision and Gravity play to the breadth of the Lusine ICL sound that I loved in tracks like On The Line and Rush Hour and the depth of the Lusine sound (there is a difference) in tracks like Flat and Auto Pilot. Double Vision is much more piano driven with a more club (or bar) friendly tempo, while Gravity is slower, more intimate, and employs that well-loved vocal snippet technique seen on Serial Hodgepodge. Great great songs!

Crowded room, the tenth track on the album, reminded me of the Cosmophonic album First Flight at first, but then started to adhere to a convention that I thought was only confined to compilations from the likes of Gatecrasher and Godskitchen, the convention of putting the song with the most energy second last on the album. It’s a good one to get down nad have a little boogie to, but you won’t see me doing that, because I’m too self-concious to dance.

I feel a bit sad when I get to the final track, Cirrus. I guess it’s just because of all the albums I’ve been waiting for this year, even above the highly anticipated releases from Mistabishi, Bop and Royksopp, A Certain Distance was the one I was most anxious to hear ( Royksopp’s Junior was a big deal, but I’m waiting for their companion album Senior to come out so I’ll look at the package as a whole). Cirrus is a nice, laid back one to go out on, and doesn’t really give a big sense of finality, which is good, because now I’m keeping my ear to the ground for the remix album 😉

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