Review Summary: inconsistently tied
It’s quite easy to criticize Lubomyr Melnyk’s work for sounding the same, or accuse his style of being inherently dull, because why should the speed he can successively press on keys matter if the notes he plays don't possess the quality or character to justify their quickness. And while there’s certainly merit to the idea that less is more, and that people should not do things just because they can, I don’t think Melnyk at this point in his career is a victim of his unique talent. If anything, over the years, he’s proved it’s very much possible to create both appealing and engaging soundscapes through sheer relentlessness. By nature, there’s repetition in this approach, of course, but it doesn’t have to wear if it’s dressed in multiple layers that work swiftly enough to evoke only the illusion of monotony, which, as Melnyk has shown, can be good; and is exactly what makes 19 notes per second soothing rather than overwhelming.
Melnyk remains true to and at times improves on this style in a lot of Illirion
. Album opener, “Beyond Romance,” is one of the composer’s best and is an exceptional example of chaos observing beauty. The underlying arpeggios of this piece are vast. They’re executed at both lower and higher octaves, alternating not quite simultaneously to sound as if they’re combined; and although they constantly change, unlike the sporadic tinkering overhead that disturbs their unrelenting course, they don’t ever evolve. Instead, they serve as a kind of mood state that tempers the randomness of the overhead layer which primarily consists of spaced-out notes, which don’t constitute a melody in themselves but still manage to feel meaningful in the context of the piece. They’re a necessary interruption, relieving the continuously building tension that would entirely waive confrontation were it not for their presence in the absence of silence throughout the composition.
However, while “Beyond Romance” is another step in the right direction to perfecting his style, Melnyk seems to lose his stride in a large part of Illirion
. “Solitude No. 1” and “Cloud No. 81” are both pretty, but they don’t utilize Melnyk’s expertise and also disrupt the mood state that he so finely crafted in “Beyond Romance.” The melancholic “Solitude No. 1” features a diverse melody, a clear switch in form that actually saves the piece from the tedium that plagues “Cloud No. 81,” which doesn’t have enough distinction in its layers to separate its mood state from the driving layer of notes, insofar as it doesn’t seem like it has a mood state at all. Melnyk perhaps attempts to add interest to this piece by actively changing pace but the pacing feels purposeless. The frequency of the arpeggios changes rapidly and seems arbitrary, which makes it challenging to find a point of return or resolve within the waves, if there is one.
The missteps of a couple pieces are notable on just a 6-composition album, and the nature of the missteps make the album feel confused and conflicted. On one hand are pieces that seem designed to tell a story or at the very least build to something, and on the other are pieces that seem designed for the opposite and, as a result, feel unintentional. This divide is annoying, and perhaps the result of a rushed effort on Melnyk's part, provoking expectations that can’t be satisfied and narratives that can’t be completed. This lack of grounding is the album’s greatest downfall and proves that brashness is only a strength when the loose ends the quality inevitably produces are fastened. In Illirion
those ends are inconsistently tied.