Alias & Ehren’s Lillian is the latest in producer Alias’s growing library of “moodpieces”. So let’s throw the disc on and build. Hopefully the music won’t bother us.
*half-full statical bass drum*
Once a producer and a writer, Anticon affiliate Alias has now almost totally abandoned the spoken word in his compositions. *reverse vocal samples* On Lillian, Alias extends his work on his Eyes Closed EP and the follow-up Muted LP, this time adding younger brother Ehren to his team as a live musician. *vocal sample* Over the course of the album’s 13 tracks, Ehren weaves flutes, saxes, and clarinets through his older brother’s shifting electronic soundscapes to create a sometimes challenging but usually bland, repetitive listening experience. *wailing, disembodied guitar*
Despite the free-form pretense that surrounds the album, each track evolves in a pretty consistent pattern. *vague low synth effect* Save for the uber-sedate “back and forth,” which never really gathers steam, the full-length instrumentals move from a tinny flatness to a throbbing fullness. *distorted tapping* The movement isn’t totally linear—over the first minute or so, the beat will get slightly fuller and louder, before dropping-out into almost complete silence. *synth oscillations* Around the 1:30 mark, however, the track typically explodes *breakdown – watch your ears!* with a full, pounding *BASS DRUM* exploding to the forefront. With this movement, the beat seems to unfold into a gigantic space that extends far beyond the speakers. However, after this trick is used on the opening track, “eman ruosis iht”, it’s played out. For the remainder of the album, it’s just a matter of checking back at 30 second intervals to detect the new twist. *floating clarinet* Not to blow it or anything, but the twist usually involves a gradual morphing of a live instrumental note into a synthesized note *atmospheric keys* that sounds as if it came from a completely different instrument.
*soaring synths* Because Lillian is a set of songs constructed from a small number of electronic blips and drums, each track fades into one long, shimmering instrumental. *multi-echo sax solo* Aside from several short interludes, Alias & Ehren break from their pattern only on the album’s last track, “netting applause.” *BASS DRUM!* On the cut’s first movement, Alias abandons his tired bass drum for a frenetic percussion that sounds like a flamenco dancer skittering through the room. The track fades out into a three-minute silence, before closing out with an unexpected, retro sax solo over old-school piano effects. *breakdown*
At the album’s close, it’s clear: on the few tracks where they throw the formula out and experiment, Alias & Ehren turn out some interesting music. *a snare or two* The same can’t be said for the album as a whole. One track of undirected ambience is alright, a whole album in the Alias & Ehren mode is overkill. After a few songs, the music subsides into a muddle of background noises. *impossibly long sax note* But then, of course, maybe that’s the point—it’s just an accompaniment, only meant to enhance what you’re already doing otherwise! Have it your way. The woodwinds make my exit more dramatic.*flurry of flutes*