This is the first post I’ve written for Chocolate Grinder since moving to Edinburgh, Scotland from the US. I know this means nothing to anybody reading this — most of you internet entities out there probably don’t even know what Chocolate Grinder is (it’s the media section for the nerd website Tiny Mix Tapes, for future reference) — but the theme of today’s lesson is the yearning for familiarity one often feels when they are in a new home, but it isn’t quite home yet.
primer is an anthology of ilkae tracks from 1998-2002, many of which are tracks of stoic, scientific beats and empty-airport melodies. Now just the work of Aaron Munsen, at the time of their conception, ilkae worked as a duo, including Krystian Lubiszewski. “1121” is a fantastic opener (the video for it is equally gorgeous), atmospheric and subdued, although a little misleading — farther into the album, breakbeats become more pronounced, reminding me of Vorpal, whose 16-minute track “The End” possesses the same melancholy energy of songs like “Snowflake,” where ilkae dances furiously around airy keyboards and white space. Practically dissonance free, primer is a collection of lullabies and bedtime stories. If there was an equivalent author though, it would be Maurice Sendak, and not Aesop or Grimm, because the stories are told through vignettes that begin with quiet sadness and end in the same place. Chord progressions do not stray far from the root. Don’t be too quick to say the music is monotonous either; a childlike curiosity for sound is one of ilkae’s biggest strengths.
Not interested in creating climactic explosions of emotion, ilkae instead subdue their feelings underneath the intense internal disassociation one feels in a home away from their true home. A deep longing for simplicity. The impossible pursuit of order in a chaotic universe. “Blue Caps,” “Alkee,” and “kk” are thick with groove, and sometimes the livelier songs stray a little longer than the more ambient, loop-based compositions. Like many collections, the amount of music on primer can be a little daunting, especially with no clear “single” to set the tone, so to speak. I recommend finding a quiet spot, beginning with “1121,” and getting a little lost.
• ilkae: http://ilkae.bandcamp.com