Published Mar 24, 2020Illusion of Time is an impressive first collaborative release between Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini that conjures a wide range of sonic landscapes, from sun-kissed fields to blustery ruins, and then on to starry nights. This sonic and emotional breadth has a drawback — the flow of the album as a whole — that makes it come off as a demonstration of the awesome potential of the collaboration, as opposed to a self-contained work.
Illusion of Time is primarily for fans of ambient music, drone and soundscapes — it bears more resemblance to late Nine Inch Nails than Avery's solo work. Fans of Tim Hecker will notice a touch of Virgins on "Inside the Ruins" and "Enter Exit." The latter also bears a striking similarity to Oneohtrix Point Never's Garden of Delete. These dark and droning tracks form a great counterpoint with lighter, more melodic moments on songs like the title track.
Another ray of melodic light comes on the incredibly warm "At First Sight," which has a soft, subtle optimism that recalls the best of early M83. While it is tempting to assign the lighter moments to Avery and the darker ones to Cortini, their sounds are blended into a sonic DNA distinct to this collaboration.
Illusion of Time is at its best on the tracks whose titles imply clear pictures of light and dark. It feels less focused on the penultimate "Water," which is also the longest track at 8 minutes — a virtuosic experiment that regrettably dispels some of the dramatic oomph and coherence of the album as a whole. Still, this is a wonderful collaboration that could reach incredible heights if they choose to continue it. (Phantasy / Mute)