Clawing away at the silence with a textured melody only meant to grow stronger with every beat, “Dead Messenger” establishes an angst-ridden – albeit muted – vibe right from the start. It’s definitely true that this isn’t the only song on the new eponymous EP from Illuminaut to incorporate physicality as a means of making the melodic trappings in the track more tangible to the audience, but as a standalone, I think it reps what this record is all about rather breathtakingly. Illuminaut is quite the progressive unit, but they’re not engaging in the typical dimensions of art-rock by any means here.
I really dig the venomousness of the groove in “Two Wolves” and the aforementioned “Dead Messenger,” and specifically the way this band is able to use rhythm to shape the undertone of their lyrics. There’s no disconnect between the different elements in this mix, but instead, a continuity that grows out of the chemistry between the two players comprising Illuminaut, steadily becoming stronger over the course of any given song here. This is what cohesive rock music sounds like, and it’s a significantly higher standard than what I’ve been hearing from most of the alternative rockers in California this year.
The friction between the bassline and the guitar parts in “Native Alien” captured my attention right off the bat when I listened to this record for the first time a few weeks ago, and it definitely made me appreciate the use of contrast on this pair’s part. They don’t just want to make music structured off of singularities; whether it’s “Native Alien” or “The Grey,” they’re pushing the limits of tempo and tonality without overexploiting one specific formula for all four songs here. Thoughtfulness is an underrated commodity in 2022, and I doubt most critics would disagree.
Blaze Powers offers up a vocal that is incredibly adept and well suited to the style of play Ben Taylor is putting forth as the multi-instrumentalist driving force behind the music, and I don’t think tracks like “The Grey” would be as complete were these two not as connect with each other and the medium as they are. You can feel the passion between them, and unlike some of the other power duos I’ve reviewed in heavy rock through the years, they don’t seem hung up on the scene politics that had ripped apart too many quality experimental acts in the 2010s.
I can’t wait to hear more of what Illuminaut is making right now and going off of the parameters of what they’ve introduced to the world in this self-titled effort, there’s no reason not to expect an even grander effort the next time they get into the studio together. Production quality, performance depth, and even poetic substance are top-notch in this record, and for this being the first official recording the duo is dropping, they’ve got a tightness that could easily challenge some of the biggest name players in all of alternative rock right now. This is a statement of their identity, and it’s a hard EP to put down for sure.