Music is a powerful ‘stream of consciousness’ enhancer, because it literally lights up both hemispheres of your brain, releasing a constant current of dopamine. The best kind of music for this experience is lyric-free instrumental music. The main reason instrumental music is so effective is that it engages the emotional centers of your brain, while avoiding to activate the verbal reasoning areas of your brain, necessary when there are lyrics. Hence your emotional focus is never interfered with, and allowed to evolve and expand freely.
In a time of truly fiery political, cultural and social rhetoric, people have been diving ears-first into the expansive realms of instrumental music in droves, putting on mood-inducing pieces to chill out to, to do work to, or to simply lose themselves in. And while the eternal question of whether using instrumental music for those purposes belies the artistry that went into it, make no mistake: the art is highly appreciated.
Thus, with heightened interest in the genre, it’s no wonder that touchstones by underground instrumental artists like illrecur have been gradually appearing on more and more playlists. The interest works two-fold, because it also inspires the artist to be more creative and prolific.
Consider for one moment that illrecur has created and released five new albums for 2019 alone, and we’re not even half-way through the year. The album titles which can be found Bandcamp, include, “Evolu”, “Then were once than”, “Tautochrone”, “Upsodown”, and the one we’re currently contemplating – “Mnemonics”.
At this point, you’re probably wondering who this prolific artist may be. Well, illrecur is the moniker used by Jeremy Allen Pursell. The American based music project founded by, and consisting solely of Pursell himself, has released 39 albums since 1997, exploring a wide range of styles and experimental ideas.
His beautifully spun, gorgeously told wordless narratives are capable of transporting you to within an earshot of his mindset in an instant. illrecur is also one of the few instrumental artists who rarely overstay their welcome, and he proves it consistently on “Mnemonics”.
Only a handful of the tracks last longer than 4 minutes, while more than half of the 21 track compilation, never reach the 3 minute mark. That’s an indelible sign of enormous control, restraint, and above all, focus. On this album release, illrecur proves himself unafraid to bring the momentum of his work front and center, adding thumping beats and rising actions to a sound that can only be described as epically cinematic.
At times he is playful, as on “Terrius”, then profoundly thoughtful on “Sonexia” and “Conditions”; experimental and videogame-like on “House of Bronze” and “Sanctions”; and then ambient-sounding on “Scar of a Figment” and “Voltameri”.
illrecur comes into his own with cinematically dynamic tracks such as the opening “The Just Thing” and then “Emanating Regulations”. Here he wonderfully manipulates the string and horn arrangements into heavy layers of thunderous drama, creating feelings of tension and concern.
Both of these compositions, alongside a few others, could easily lend themselves to epic movie scores. Often the intrigue of this record comes not from its structures or instrumentation, but instead how the compositions react to your expectations, beguiling and intriguing you regardless of intended mood. It’s a fascinating record that appears custom-made for these equally confusing, fascinating times.
Curveballs arrive unannounced, as in the case of “AuroraDigm” with its crunchy industrial guitars, or in illrecur’s theatrical orchestration on “Carver”, which complimented by an energetic experimental sound, fuses together to create emotional pandemonium. There is much variety throughout the tracks to change the listener’s perception of the surrounding atmosphere.
This helps portray a variety of moods as the elegant strings and magnetic piano chords often accentuate the heavy booms. Compositions may change multiple times from smoother inflections to blunt clashes of electronic noise, showing the roller coaster of astonishment or disquiet being portrayed musically.
Using the emotional tone that it sets for itself as well as its climactic moments to its advantage, “Mnemonics” manages to engage the audience with roaring and suspenseful climaxes, as well as amounts of tension, excitement and even playfulness, and it succeeds in doing so, by also detaching away from many of the standard instrumental music clichés. It’s both ambitious and imaginative!