Review Summary: an Ilian Tape victory lap
Ilian Tape had already done more than enough to establish itself as one of the standard-bearers in electronic music before Due in Color
. Thriving in the interstice between club music for ravers and at-home tunes for flaneurs, artists like Germany's Skee Mask and Italy's Andrea have consistently released some of the most exciting music in recent years. Never before has the kinship between the two label-mates been this explicit; Due in Color
almost functions as a corollary to Skee Mask's masterful 2021 LP, Pool
. That's not to say that Andrea's latest is any lesser than Pool
, or that it's a facsimile with nothing new to offer–rather, this latest offering shows the synergy of the label's members as they collectively hone in on a unique sound.
And what a sound it is. Andrea runs the gamut here with a dazzling display of versatility while still working within the same general framework. Pool
took this to the extreme, exploring a number of different genres and conquering all of them. Andrea's latest, meanwhile, takes a subset of Pool
–the breakbeat and ambient parts, in particular–and extracts as much as it can from its narrower stylistic leanings. Even within the same track, Due in Color
flexes this range; album opener "Jaim" is cleansing, ambient, and aquatic until it boils over, giving way to organic percussion and heady bass. The next four tracks are probably the closest the album comes to uptempo dance-floor sweat-fests, keeping the BPM high and the muscular breakbeat drums omnipresent. Luckily, the comedown is just as sweet; the second half has plenty of ambient micro-oases, beat-less portions of songs that provide ample time for rest and reflection. The percussion that does exist takes a far less obtrusive approach (save for "Chessbio"): "Hazymo" shuffles along, "Am Der" is light as gossamer, and the closer "Return_Lei" forgoes the drums altogether (perhaps not the most novel idea for a closer, but it's a serviceable take on the trope).
Preventing listener whiplash is cohesiveness in mood and ambiance, despite the preening going on as the Italian shows all he has to offer. Due in Color
is intoxicating, but it leaves you clear-headed. It pulls you into its orbit with its lush and psychedelic synths and its almost overwhelmingly powerful bass and drums, but at the heart of it all is a deeply cleansing and meditative spirit. Whether Andrea is letting loose or pulling back, the same potent-yet-soothing atmosphere imbues every song with a fascinating dichotomy that rewards a closer listen.