ILLUSION OF SAFETY Sweet Dreams (Substantia Innominata / Drone Records) 10"
Here's a perfect fit for the Drone Records imprint Subtantian Innominata. Illusion Of Safety is the long-running post-industrial project revolving around Chicago's Dan Burke. Over the past 30 years, he and his band of malcontents have created an amazing, if under-appreciated catalogue of psychologically grim soundtracks, brutal collages, and sublime dronemuzik, with most of the recordings operating on divergent aesthetic paths. On Sweet Dreams, Illusion Of Safety pushes towards an organic melancholy through some downright beautiful passages for guitar and synth explorations that recalls the Connie Plank haze cast upon Harmonia and Cluster back in the day. Yet, Burke detours from the kosmische ethos by snapping concise samples of earthen crunch along Robert Hampson-esque grids with loosened strumming dissolving the title track into a plaintive call and response of the technological and the roughhewn. "Unresolved" treats the guitar with more of a Tim Hecker sensibility for a digitally savvy blissout, followed up on the flipside with the hypnotic and lovely "Always Somewhere Else" whose motorik underbelly gradually levitates through an oscillating sequence of synths, with brightly toned guitar plucks gradually revolving into focus next to celestial choral synths. Quite a surprise from Illusion Of Safety, but one we're delighted to encounter.-aquarius records
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Live At No Fun Fest, 2008 (Obsolete Units) cassette
Dan Burke has presented a considerable number of facades for Illusion Of Safety over the past 25 years, with sublimated horror, brain-melting minimalism, crushed noise, and disjointed rhythms filtering through a post-industrial wasteland of sound. So, it's no surprise that his performance at the 2008 No Fun Fest touched on some of the many landmarks that Illusion Of Safety has carved out in its distinguished history, while making plenty of other detours at the same time. The tape opens with a quintessential Illusion Of Safety collage of scattershot media samples punctured by short extracts of blast beats and frenzied riffage that fragments and distorts into empty passages marked by tactile creaks, wooden sighs, and strange squishing sounds. Dense low-end throbbings and noxious rumbles quickly accelerate through these suspended concrete elements, snapping to a halt with a razor sharp crescendo, offering forth another set of field recordings and electronic squiggling. Burke continues along a similar strategy, revealing a wide array of peculiar sonic juxtapositions for one of his most decentered compositions. Side two moves from a horror soundtrack vernacular of wind-up toy twinklings smeared out of existence through grey flecks of shortwave crackle and plenty of Derbyshire-ish sci-fi gloop. Later on, an ominous drone from a lurking bass tone flashes a radiant glow and overlapping guitar sourced forms - growing rhizomatically in all sorts of complex directions and digitalized abstractions. Perhaps the closest that Burke has taken his work to the surreal horror collage of Nurse With Wound, irr. app. (ext.), and HNAS. Limited to 100 copies.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Fin De Siecle (Korm Plastics) cd
The vinyl of Fin De Siecle came out in 1995 through the Korm Plastics label, who only pressed up 250 copies as something for the band to take on tour in Europe. In many ways, this was a parallel album to the sublime drone constructions that Illusion Of Safety produced on the unheralded masterpiece Of & The, whose foggy netherworld of found sounds crossed with haunted ambience was prescient of the albums that Mirror, Kevin Drumm, and The Caretaker would produce many years later. Illusion Of Safety had been operational for about a decade when this record originally came out, first building very ominous post-industrial constructions laced with toxic noise and unsettling media samples; but by the early '90s, IOS became far more sophisticated through subtle uses of musique concrete and psychoacoustic strategies. Records like Probe and Cancer are indicative of this approach leading to the more introspective and contemplative albums of the mid '90s, including Fin De Siecle.
The liner notes from revolving door Illusion Of Safety member Kurt Griesch mentions being unhappy with the outcome of the LP, as much of the material needed to be edited and revised to fit on vinyl. In revisiting the material, Illusion Of Safety chose to leave what was found on the LP intact and bracket those tracks with two newer pieces (one about three minutes long, the other over twenty-five) serving as a re-imagined framework. The first cut builds a screeching collage of metal-upon-metal and compacted rumblings ramping quickly to a corroded crescendo that snaps to a loud amplification of a runout groove on a piece of vinyl. This brief interlude of acoustic noises stand in stark contrast to the rest of album, which glides weightlessly in and out of the dreamy glassine drone of pre-waking ambience, stretching out the cybernetic dreamtime heard only in brief sketches on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2. As an ambient record, Fin De Siecle does have its moments of dislocation and upheaval with a growling snarl of impulsive thrumming at the end of "Part One" and some gritty field recordings of an industrial wasteland devoid of any human emerging in "Part Three." Even on their prettiest and most graceful album, Illusion Of Safety find a way to make their proceedings unsettling. -aquarius records
Bible, Burke & Henry, “Live in the Port of Kings” 3″ CD
The latest installment of Standard Form’s subdued Rural Route 3″ CD series comes from an improvisational performance featuring Jeremy Bible, Jason Henry and Dan Burke (who is commonly known as Illusions of Safety). Bible and Henry, who have been collaborating and releasing material for the past few years, create deeply spacious sounds of dark ambiance. As Illusions of Safety, Burke produces hypnotic yet schizophrenic drones of processed material. “Live in the Port of Kings” was recorded in 2008 and apparently was the first actual meeting of the trio as a whole, which is surprising given the confidence and seamless execution of the performance. The set opens with a muffled field recording of human voice, both young and old. Conversation swells, street noise flows in and out, and electronic crackles and blips interrupt throughout. The scene slowly dissolves into absolute drones of spaced-out complexity. For a moment, it’s stone cold demeanor shuts you out completely. The trio takes its time to pass through scenes of isolating tones and snapshots of everyday life, but never lets the story remain stagnant.
llusion of Safety, “Live @ No Fun 2008″ tape
Daniel Burke’s Illusion of Safety has been a vibrant if not endlessly-prolific entity for almost 30 years, but the project’s vivid and fresh approach to a certain musique concrete is on full display in this live-to-tape recording of Burke’s performance from the 2008 installment of the No Fun Fest series. For roughly 30 minutes, Burke plows through a focused set of layered field recordings, deeply rumbling tones, and eerie electroacoustic sounds. It’s a surreal trip mixing outsourced sounds from all over the world and encompassing everything from the human voice to chugging diesel engines. Burke’s ability to meditate on certain scenes of beauty amongst not-quite jarring edits of material is unmatched in this particular piece. Extended moments of pastoral softness carry particular weight in the context of a largely noisey set in the of a largely noise fest, but quickly make way to rhythmic sheets of static drones rivaling Mark Lord or Rene Hell’s immersive assault. With seamless transitions between cut-and-paste collages and manufactured drones, it’s easy to get lost in the deep passages of this recording.
Illusion of Safety
Busier Than Happier
Confronting an act like Illusion of Safety, whose long history, deep catalog, and membership permutations are nearly uncountable, can be problematic. Spanning from the mid 1980s to the present with 50+ releases, Dan Burke et al.'s project has had critics bearing an ever increasing weight with each new release. The group's past sounds — varying, in Dan's own words, from "power electronics [to] totalitarian pseudo-rock" — inevitably infects perceptions of their new ones, so it's no surprise that any criticism is largely tempered by their wealth of material.
Busier Than Happier, Illusion of Safety's newest work, is no exception, invoking direct and obvious links to works prior. A solo venture, Busier Than Happier is populated predominantly by field recordings, each of noticeably low fidelity. Such constructs hark back to Burke's musique concrète-filled 80s, a time when production quality was a technological constraint, not a self-imposed aesthetic.
While it is doubtful that any of Burke's samples are familiar to his listeners, he doesn't even offer an opportunity for recognition. Chatter and haunted room ambience introduce "Preface," but before any semblance of clarity can be achieved, a storm of white noise clouds the work. It's similar to the way Burke annihilates the spoken, aged words of "The Spanish Situation" with carnival laughter and a devilish synthesizer: while voices comprise most of Busier Than Happier's unoriginal sounds — speaking, singing, or laughing — they're always concealed by his machinations.
It's as if Burke is avoiding the inevitable recollective nature of field recordings. Even sources unknown to the listener still carry an interpretation beyond the scope of 'musical' sound, flooding a piece with foreign priors, irrespective of their authorial intent or accuracy. But Burke's samples are of deeper perplexity, of dual referential constitution. Within the context of Illusion of Safety's catalog, the field recordings on Busier Than Happier not only beckon ancillary thoughts of non-musical origin, but also of past works by Illusions. And yet these representations are counter-cyclical: Burke's reluctance of the former constructs the latter.
I can't help but find humor in Busier Than Happier's contradiction. Burke might just be pulling a prank on the self-aware critic, the one who observes and balks at shedding the momentum of critical literature. Undoubtedly, I have fallen prey to this 'joke,' if it exists at all. But this manifestation does beget a recognition of the playfulness inflected by Busier Than Happier, an understanding that complements its concrete sounds and only heightens appreciation of this excellent release.
02. Best Left Unsaid
04. Partial Reconstruction
05. The Spanish Situation
06. Devil Rocks
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Busier than Happier
Chicago's Dan Burke is one of the eternal presences of the American underground. Many variations of his Illusion Of Safety project have come and gone, leaving lots of great recordings and shows in their wake. On this one, Dan is solo, and creating primitive musique concrete collages from field recordings and what sounds like the inherent flaws in his own systems. The results are great - subterranean plumbing explorations, learning about birds and bes by talking to bulldozers, shimmying through drainage tunnels with pocket full of screwrdivers...it's all here! -Byron Coley
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Bridges Intact
Since the mid-1980s, Illusion of Safety mastermind Dan Burke has produced a steady stream of difficult music, channeling a minimalist and industrial sensibility through the often perplexing notions of phenomenology, culture and psychoacoustics. While earlier albums like Probe and In 70 Countries exploited the use of experimental sound collage, spoken samples — often of torture victims — and unstable noise, Bridges Intact sees the project venturing into less psychologically pummeling territory. The album plays out like a more languid, smoothed-out version of the industrial powerhouses that were earlier albums — not so much Probe, but Violence and Geography and the aforementioned In 70 Countries for sure.
Bridges Intact sees appearances by Ben Vida and long time collaborator Thymme Jones, who make their presence felt immediately on the first track, "Zagreb," a sinister open-room improv piece consisting of minor key piano, soft focus drones, and down-tuned string scrawl. The unhurried pacing and the selective use of instrumentation during the opening seven minutes is reminiscent of the work of Isolde – the collaborative project between Robin Barnes and Andrew Chalk. Eventually, the second track, "Too Late to Exist," overtakes the first in a seamless transition that soon evolves into a flurry — albeit a somewhat placid flurry — of La Monte Young/Charlemagne Palestine style piano smearing, that’s as unnerving as it is evocative.
The remainder of the eight pieces that make up Bridges Intact play out as a combination of muted noise and brooding electro-acoustics. Stand outs include the auditory spelunking of "Crossing Now," an 11-minute recording of controlled feedback and restrained tactility, and "Dismal Water," a dizzying piece of sputtering electronica that would fit right at home on many progressive techno labels.
Of all the championing things that can be said of Dan Burke and his music, his proclivity for stoicism when it comes to the sounds of Illusion of Safety is easily the most preeminent. Perhaps Jim O-Rourke’s influence on him during the primordial years of the group helped steer his sound in that direction, although it’s clear that Burke – along side a revolving cast of other contributors – has faired well without him, evident in post-O’Rourke albums like In Opposition to our Acceleration and In Session that have stood well against the test of time. Time, too, will tell the fate of Bridges Intact, but as of now, it holds as another exceptional set of recordings in the Illusion of Safety repertoire.?
By Adrian Dziewanski (Dusted)
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Bridges Intact (Waystyx) cd
Illusion Of Safety records have been slow coming in recent years, but IOS mastermind Dan Burke has been hinting at a whole slew of new material forthcoming. All of which should be very good news for all who have followed his work over the years. Since 1983, Burke has been producing an occasionally volatile, often sublime, and almost always exceptional body of work that prominently figures into the history of industrial culture and the ensuing explorations of noise, dronemuzik, and electro-acoustic collages from the mid-'80s onward. There had long been a sense of violence and transgression in the Illusion Of Safety catalogue, yet the overt displays of psychological horrors that appeared on such albums as Historical have gradually sublimated into the more inquisitive and arguably more compelling albums such as In Opposition To Our Acceleration and here on Bridges Intact.
A room recording of piano, feedback, guitar, and electronics opens the album, as Burke presents a collaborative piece with one of the long-time contributors to Illusion Of Safety, in Thymme Jones (who fronts the idiosyncratic art-rock combo Cheer Accident). At first the piano and the guitar spiral atonal clusters around the droning feedback tones, but after a transition through a series of clattering objects, the piano swarms into a dynamic blur of Terry Riley / Charlemagne Palestine inspired minimalism. Very impressive! Electricified buzzes and tremolo flutterings scatter around another set of bleary guitar drones whose tendrils of shimmered tone and vaporous ephemerality lead to a haunted, levitating quality to the piece, as if everything were hovering around the participants in a seance. This isn't a haunting on the demonic scale, but something more sublime and peculiar. Burke shifts more towards an intense stream of mechanoid pulses, electrical whirls, pierced tones, rarified static, and heavily amplified microsonic vibrations. Here, IOS has more of the research & development experimentation that you would get from the likes of Joe Colley or John Duncan. As Burke ducks and weaves through his tangles of crossed wires, tactile crunches, and short-circuited electronics, the breadth of his ability to produce such an extraordinary variety of electro-acoustic expressionism becomes very evident.
It should also be noted that the Russian label Waystyx has produced some elaborate packaging with two fold-out panels with numerous die-cuts that give the folio the appearance of an old steel truss bridge. Limited and numbered to 324 copies.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - THE NEED TO NOW (CDR by Experimedia)
My love for Illusion Of Safety can't be a secret, though I am not a follower with no critique. There is a great deal of CDs, vinyl, CDRs and tapes around with their music, and some I rank as 'absolute' master pieces ('Historical', 'Probe', the first two 'Mort Aux Vaches' for instance), and some I found more curious than good, like 'Inside Agitator', but the vast majority of the release are labeled as 'good' or better. These days Illusion Of Safety is no longer a band, but the one man band of Daniel Burke, although former (?) member Chris Block did the photos for the cover. In recent years Burke has settled on a more specific style of sound, which involves electronics, laptop and hand held objects attached with contact microphones. Pre-recorded sound material, mainly snippets from radio, TV an records, the 'field recordings' as well as electronic sounds are mixed with electro-acoustic objects in an extraordinary manner. This is the meeting point of many influences: improvised music,
musique concrete, industrial music, microsound even, all in a highly intense set of music. Music that has a soundtrack like character. Why isn't Daniel Burke a famous Hollywood soundtrack composer, I wonder? I can imagine great movies with this music, better than much of the muzak that now comes with 'scary' movies'. The shock tactics that Burke uses, the swift changes in his music, are less present here than before, but add that cinematographic character to the music. It's perhaps also the most present element from the world of industrial music which you can find in his music these days. Never brutally loud - that station is past history luckily enough - but angular at times, flowing easily at others, playing with the notion of silence and loudness, and never strictly confined to laptop techniques, which firmly sets him aside of some many others. The strange thing is, in my opinion, why isn't this a household name, playing all the major festivals there are in this field? Organizers,
film makers and listeners: please pay some more respect. (FdW)
Illusion of Safety
The Need to Now (Experimedia) CD
As Illusion of Safety, musician Dan Burke often works at the extremes, shifting from dense, earsplitting noise to brooding, atmospheric soundscapes. This beautifully packaged, limited edition CD on Ohio’s small Experimedia label finds Burke—at least for the most part—in minimalist mode. The pieces are stark and spacious as Burke allows a variety of field recordings, unearthly hums and sharp, metallic tones to hover and drift, creating a quiet, eerie intensity. There are a few disquieting exceptions, such as “About When,” with its bursts of frenetic drum and guitar snippets sampled from jazz records, and the disc’s final track, “History is Selective,” which has an unexpected Gaelic-style vocal interlude. The album’s finest moments, however, are its most bleakly austere and unsettling beautiful.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - IN SESSION (WAYSTYX)
"One of my favorite post industrial bands ever. Period. Since more than twenty years I am a fan and every new release is awaited with eager anticipation. This highly limited release from Russia, in a gorgeous package, is no different. These days, since many years actually, Illusion Of Safety is reduced one person, following a free floating membership that included Thyme Jones and Jim O'Rourke to mention just two, which is Dan Burke. He plays 'sound generating devices and random objects that deliberately provoke, mesmerize and even affront listeners'. I deliberately use the term 'post industrial' and not say 'electro-acoustic' or 'musique concrete', which could also easily be applied to the music of Illusion Of Safety. When they started they were firmly rooted in the world of industrial music, and later on elements of musique concrete came along, but if you listen to 'In Session' the elements of industrial music are still there. Heavy, steel walls of drone music pierce your ears and are as easily replaced by soft drones, crackling sounds of hand held objects and contact microphones. I wouldn't be surprised if Burke plays all of this 'in session', live at home so to speak. I saw him a lot of times playing concerts which capture the equal beauty that is captured here. Ranging from sheer noise to near silence and there is always an element of surprise lurking around the corner. An abrupt, full stop or start and it bring the piece in a new territory. Illusion Of Safety's music can be compared with the likes of Roel Meelkop or Toy Bizarre, but is less bound to rules of composition and more free and joyous (well, that's probably not the right away) than those of the microsound/musique concrete posse that inhabits the world of Vital Weekly so frequently. That alone makes a great band and another great CD. Very fine concentrated bursts of sound." [FdW / Vital Weekly]
ILLUSION OF SAFETY In Session (Waystyx) cd
The first proper record from Illusion Of Safety in well over 5 years emerges from the Russian label Waystyx, meaning that this will not be around for long and will not be easy for us to track down once these are gone. Just a caveat before we launch into the, um, virtues of this exercise in muscular electronics and brainmelting dronescaping. Illusion Of Safety began well over two decades ago, firmly embracing the death factory imagery and psychological tension that came through the work of Throbbing Gristle, John Duncan, and The Hafler Trio. While the grizzly subjects of torture and sexual violence have dissolved over time, Illusion Of Safety's interest in unsettled soundscapes, collages, and electronic walls of noise remain as powerful as ever. Illusion Of Safety has always been a revolving door project centered around Chicago's Dan Burke; and In Session finds Burke alone at the helms of Illusion Of Safety, concocting a dizzying series of arcing electroshock compositions filled with intense dynamics and rapid crescendos of incremental noise quickly nosediving into subharmonic tones and microtonal squiggles, with plenty of slow building elements in between. The piercing drones that dominate the Illusion Of Safety palette are matched with crumbled textures from electronic circuits on the verge of collapse (see Wolf Eyes, Carlos Giffoni) and contact microphone agitation (see Tarab, Eric La Casa, Loren Chasse, etc.). There's one track of grim psychedelic arpeggiations which sounds as if Prurient were attempting a Terry Riley piece, with bad intentions running through the phase shifting loops. Totally fantastic, if not totally disquieting!
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Probe (Perdition Plastics) cd
Arguably the finest Illusion Of Safety record ever made, Probe was the 1992 recording composed by Dan Burke and Jim O'Rourke. The former began Illusion Of Safety a decade earlier with a revolving door personnel policy involving a handful of Chicago malcontents. O'Rourke began working with Burke's project around 1989 or so, when he was still a teenager and studying composition in college. Where many of the Illusion Of Safety albums are full-frontal assaults on the psyche of the listener (especially the groundbreaking album Historical with its raw use of narration from torture documentaries), Probe is a far more subtle and thus effective album marked by the extended use of disturbed silences, predating such sound design techniques that David Lynch mastered in Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway. This use of space is definitely coming from the O'Rourke side of the equation (which according to Burke was 50/50 on Probe), as O'Rourke's early solo album Scend was released at about the same time as Probe with profound similarities. Throughout the subsonic frequencies and unsettled spooky drones, there are numerous punctures of analogue sourced micro-bleeping, errata from shortwave, scrabbling of tactile objects, field recordings of traffic jams, children at play, carnival rides, etc. and jittery digitally sculpted loops. As all of these elements slowly unfurl over several lengthy chapters, Probe truly synthesizes the aesthetics of both Burke and O'Rourke into a cohesive body of work, with Burke's research into the dark and transgressive balanced with O'Rourke's studies into the musique concrete of Luc Ferrari and Michel Chion.
Staalplaat first released Probe in a wooden slipcase in an edition of 500 copies. Those quickly went out of print; but fortunately, Perdition Plastics has just reissued this brilliant album, albeit in more conventional packaging...
ILLUSION OF SAFETY THE NEED TO NOW
a new work from Illusion of Safety, a group that should need no introduction to 40 somethings like myself, who invested a lot of time and energy seeking out IOS releases many years ago in what would arguably have been their heyday. Dan Burke’s project resurfaces in the form of The Need to Now , a 7 tracker that does not dissappoint these ears, having not heard their more recent materials, this was a welcome opportunity to experience IOS’s distempered sampling, and edgy, tightly wound atmospherics. IOS have distilled their overall sound further since I last heard them, leaving yawning chasms of near silence to add drama and anticipation, allowing their taut, aqueous ambiences to swirl around sharply focussed field recordings and organic elements. Once again, IOS demonstrate a mastery of the medium in a welcome comeback.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY: Mort Aux Vaches Staalplaat No Number CD
The latest CD by Illusion of Safety (aka Dan Burke and Kurt Griesch) is a provocative blend of Improv and Ambient. Two tracks at approximately 25 and 30 minutes respectively; both are entirely improvised and make extremely sensitive use of field recordings and electronic sound processing. The first opens with fragmentary avant- piano set against gravel-metallic noises--tiny sounds amplified until they become all-encompassing and disturbing. Thereafter, the dynamic range is mostly reduced to subdued, expansive drones and murmurs, punctuated by distorted chimes and cymbals. Sometimes there's just a hair's breath between sound and 'silence'. Like the work of AMM, Morphogenesis and Organium, Mort Auz Vaches takes on environmental proportions as it seeps imperceptibly into your urban landscape: passing cars, even those multiphoning starlings on my roof, with their Evan Parker impersonations, were determined to be part of the overall sound design. Listened to on headphones, you become more aware of Burke and Griesch's marvelous timing and pacing as you hear the even tinier, submerged sounds - pops and crackles, tremulous metallic resonances, half-heard voices, a finger rubbed across a stylus as Pere Ubu's David Thomas once sang: The smallest details, the finest points, they all add up." One of the most quietly riveting albums I've heard. Chris Blackford, The Wire.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY
Some may disagree with me here, but Distraction may very well be the best CD (or anything) IOS has released yet. A multi-faceted offering. Distraction is in essence, a culmination of all aspects of past releases... references being made to almost everything they've done (bits and pieces make brief appearances). What makes Distraction work so much better is that it offers no singular sound in which to describe or categorize it. From the quiet field recordings of "Con Ed" and the frantic beat assemblage of "Imposture" to the junky collage soundscapes of "Vasectomy" and the trademark drowning ambience of "Fragments of Memory" or "Helen Your Brain, Forever Since Breakfast". Distraction is chock full of concise edits, off-kilter manic energy and brilliant sampling. One need only listed to the "White Zone" with its unbelievably violent assemblage of piston-like beats to know this is no ordinary release. While it lacks the emotional drain of say Historical, it makes up for it in pure unbridled power and it's success at bringing together such a broad base of contradicting sounds. As a unit Distraction is intensely wound up, with Dan cathartically unleashing a slew of pent-up frustrations and tension into one 74-minute excursion of music. Holy shit, you need this! Odd Size. JM
llusion of Safety Sedation & Quell 10” EP (Complacency)
in one form or another, dan burke's chicago-based illusion of safety has been around since the early 80s. ios is currently a solo project, but it has counted: chris block (dot dot dot, pox, no apology, cheer-accident, asa nisi, fifteen minutes), jef bek (dot dot dot), rross feller (dot dot dot), (SKiN GRAFT staple) thymme jones (dot dot dot, brise-glace, cheer-accident, yona-kit, you fantastic!) mitch enderle (dead tech), mark klein, mark sorensen, jim o'rourke (sonic youth ('00-'05), loose fur, diskaholics anonymous trio, gastr del sol, brise-glace, mimir, original silence, red krayola, yona-kit, fenno'berg (with christian fennesz and peter rehberg) and james johnson among its ranks.
side a's sedation is quite literal, right down to its etching: "just a nod, i'm ok, really, that wont be necessary", (in this context, a nod is a careless mistake). the music is a bit minimal and dark, but not so fey. to me, it's relative to the title, evocative of a psych ward, someplace where the joy, spontaneity and general human spirit has been sucked out of life. the brief crackle and zaps of electricity at the two minute mark make me think of electro-shock therapy, enhancing the figurative zombification. there's a layer of persistent humming and one of oscillating drones which will ever so slowly creep further and further upward in the audio mix. my favorite part of sedation is the whirling feedback. with its rather slight, but constant presence, it makes for a surreally haunting addition. that, along with the natural crackling of the vinyl, compound the track's bleak imagery. sedation's second half will get a little louder when the undulating drone, which was background fodder, becomes much more prominent.
the choppy, helicopter-like noise, static dissonance and frequency modulations, which comprise the opening minutes of quell, give off a large-scale crisis kind of feel. the dust will begin to settle into ghostly radio transmissions and cold ambiance; highlighted by waves of drone and the hollowed out screams of feedback. a layer of static starts to stir and will soon turn into a distorted procession. this is where the title starts to make more sense as the calculated noise seems like that of a marching army on their way to subdue whatever uprising is occurring. sure enough, once the chaos reaches its peak, quell deteriorates down to a high-pitch drone for the final minute. it's very cinematic in scope.
llusion of Safety Sedation & Quell 10” EP (Complacency)
Two terrifying sides of dark ambient thrills from a recently-reawakened Illusion of Safety. “Sedation” lulls you to sleep aside the faint glare of electronic fuse cracklin’, while “Quell” goes all out in a Grand Guignol stretch of noise leading out of a maddeningly chilling drone. Scarier than most direct-to-DVD horror films; images providing this sort of sound would probably tear society apart. Or not. Either way, a welcome return to the fold. Gold vinyl.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Time Remaining (Ossonossos) cd
Illusion Of Safety's Time Remaining was released back in 2003 by the small British imprint Ossonossos. Some five years later, we finally managed to get a hold of some copies; and it remains to be seen, if we'll be able to get more. Now that the scarcity issue has been broached, we must now regale you with the virtues and vices of this record. Illusion Of Safety is the post-industrial project centered around Dan Burke, who has often recruited some fellow Chicagoan misanthropes and avant-garde technophiles to propagate his soundscapes which parallel those of the Hafler Trio, John Duncan, Stilluppsteypa, and Lustmord. There could also be a claim for IOS as a precedent to the fuzzbound digismear of artists like Machinefabriek and Tim Hecker, albeit with Illusion Of Safety producing a much darker, more malevolent body of work.
Time Remaining operates something like a horror soundtrack with a bristling introduction of electo-shock noise, mechanical chugs, and Tesla coil bursts, all tightly wound into a precise collage of bloodcurdling intensity. Illusion Of Safety reprises this electric volatility at the conclusion of the album, that may or may not be an homage to their 1993 album Historical, which essentially used the same strategy. In between these two brackets of pierced sound, Illusion Of Safety fabricates equally dark, but far more subtle atmospheres of shadowy hiss, blurry drone, and fluttered recordings of urban decay. Here is actually where Burke's strength really lies, and if David Lynch weren't already so good at sound design, he would want to look to Dan Burke to score his films.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - SEDATION/QUELL (10" by C.I.P.)
There was a time when Illusion Of Safety was one of the most active forces in the US experimental music scene. With a varying line up the nucleas was and is Dan Burke. He and his band members played lots of concerts, of which I happened to see quite a few, in varying line ups. They could be a total miss, but most of the time they were great. Combining real instruments with electronics, acoustic objects, tapes and later on computers, they carved out music that was on the crossroad of industrial, ambient and musique concrete. On CD it was the same, absolute master pieces like 'Probe', 'Cancer' or 'Historical' outnumber the weaker brothers, of which I only remember 'Inside Agitator'. These days Illusion Of Safety celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary and it's mainly Dan Burke solo. Still on the road, still on top of things, but music is no longer his main thing, diversing with other activities in life and away from the endless pressure of having to deliver music. So the releases have become sparse, but are still great. Two pieces on this 10" 'Sedation' and 'Quell'. Both pieces are concentrated works of densely knitted web of sounds. Apparently Burke uses an old typewriter, turntable pops/crackles, shortwave and oscillations. The two pieces could be brothers in arms. Slow development, taking time to take shape. Dense but not blurred. This is the Illusion Of Safety side of ambient - not comforting quiet, but discomforting beautiful. 'Sedation' is a humming low end piece with tension lurking underneath. Two great pieces of someone who should have his name writing large in the annals of music history (but of course won't, since there is no such thing as justification). (FdW)
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Historical (Staalplaat) cd
While this album came out way back in the early 90's, Illusion Of Safety's "Historical" is a great album to see what a 19 year-old kid from Chicago named Jim O'Rourke did to keep himself busy. At the time of this recording the revolving door membership of Illusion Of Safety also included Dan Burke (the mainstay for IOS) and Thymme Jones (later of You Fantastic, Brise Glace, and a handful of other Chicago no-wave revivalist groups). "Historical" opens and closes with blasts of industrial strength plunderphonics, recontextualizing Public Enemy, Simm City, Slayer, and big band horn blasts into synthetic rhythms. But the reason to get the album is for the 45 minutes or so of dark harsh droning reminiscent of the best work of John Duncan. Go ahead I dare you to buy it to play right after Jim O'Rourke's "Eureka".
ILLUSION OF SAFETY In Opposition To Our Acceleration (Die Stadt) cd
Back in the early '90s, a 19 year old kid made his first mark upon music as "the guitarist from Illusion Of Safety." That kid then went on to produce a couple of interesting records amongst his huge catalogue of sonic eccentricities, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time. It's unfortunate that Jim O'Rourke (the kid in question) would become the darling of the alt.rock and electronica circuits, while most of his fans would slight Illusion Of Safety as a second rate Industrial act. While the comparison between O'Rourke's pop-dork persona and Illusion Of Safety's explorations into sonic phenomonology is like apples and oranges, the overall quality of this Illusion of Safety album is completely superior to O'Rourke's adequate Mego album and to his dreadful "Insignificant." As this comparison may be falling apart while I write this, I'll end on the note that a bad orange will always suck next to a good apple!
Anyway, Dan Burke founded Illusion of Safety in the mid '80s as a schizophrenic continuation of Industrial Culture as a theatrical means of exposing the cracks within culture and human nature. It is true that a good number of the early Illusion Of Safety albums haven't aged all that well (including a number that O'Rourke worked on!); but Burke and his rotating core of collaborators certainly learned what worked (manipulated field recordings and disturbed ambience) and what didn't (grim media sound bites and hamfisted electro-shock rhythms). "In Opposition To Our Acceleration" finds a matured Illusion Of Safety deftly constructing psycholological tense atmospheres from amplified electrical currents, found sounds, microtonal guitar pluckery, and unnerving drones. The pinnacle of the album occurs during a collage from the chinese water torture of a very slow leak dripping into a bucket, alongside a distant choral chant and some nervous sustained tones. A few of the tracks do vector off into the MAX / MSP territory of timestretching samples and glitch fragmentation, but fits nicely into the textural potency of the album as a whole. Along with "Cancer" and "Probe", "In Opposition To Our Acceleration" is one of the best Illusion Of Safety albums.
ILLUSION OF SAFETY More Violence and Geography (Die Stadt) cd
With nothing to go on but my memory, I remember there being an interview with Illusion of Safety in a 1989 or 1990 Option magazine in which IOS frontman Dan Burke admitted that his fanboy infatuation with Throbbing Gristle (especially seeing them play live in 1981) was the catalyst to begin Illusion of Safety. After a number of cassette only releases, Illusion Of Safety's first LP was "More Violence and Geography" released originally on Burke's Complacency Records in 1988 in conjunction with RRRecords. While I've not heard the album until now, the references to Throbbing Gristle still hold true and may actually serve the band better due to an increasing historical awareness of the continuum of Industrial music. Considering that 'Industrial' music in 1988 meant Ministry, Front 242, and Skinny Puppy, Illusion of Safety's revisitation to TG's snarling noise, wicked humor, and predilection of morbid theme was relatively novel. With smatterings of militant drum machine stomps, dissonant dive-bomb guitar noise, scraping metal, and media cut-ups revealing disturbing narratives about political torture, mass murders, insanity, and other socially deviant themes, Illusion of Safety crafted an unnerving album firmly planted in the traditions of the Industrial pioneers (TG, SPK, Monte Cazzaza, etc.). Jim O'Rourke trainspotters should take heed, although he was a member of IOS, as he wasn't at the time of the recording of "More Violence and Geography," whose line up included Burke, Mark Klein, Mark Sorensen, Mitch Enderle, and Chris Block.-aquarius records
SEDATION & QUELL bixobal
Long since reduced to the core of Dan Burke, and having shed more famous members such as Jim O'Rourke and Thymme Jone, IOS is still serving up multilayered works, demonstrating how much of the group's sound stems from Burke's own explorations. The two pieces that make up this release forgo the shock tactics of the earliest releases and focus on a more diffuse malaise. Two other reviewers have made a comparison to the work of The Hafler Trio, and that is easy to see as the central component on this record is the type of rich drones so prominent on later releases from H3O. However, IOS sidesteps the pseudoscience and pomposity that come as baggage with any of Andrew McKenzie's work. Anyhow, "Sedation" is unsurprisingly, given its title, the more subtle of the two beginning as it does in the most faint manner, shifting after a swash of static-like sounds which ushers in a fuller but still diffuse, calm atmosphere. Progression continues slowly, adding layers to the sound which occupy distinct sections of the frequency range. After the half way point, drifting bass tones which remind me of the earlier Organum shimmer through. "Quell" retains more of the tension that I associate with Illusion of Safety as the drone are more machine-like, although less abrasive than the work of Vivenza. The track starts with medicine chest's question in George Lucas' film "THX1139": "What's wrong?" From there it sets free the anxiety lurking within. As a coda to "Sedation", "Quell" ends with a very airy trailout as if to prepare you to flip the record back to its A side. Of course there is more detail found on both sides, but I don't feel that an in depth analysis of every component allows staying focused on the overall atmosphere. Has Illusion of Safety softened? Perhaps not, and more likely this is a rare gift from Dan which allows a deeper sinking into the drone without the usual jarring wake up call. The record totals around 20 minutes and is pressed on translucent yellow vinyl which is wrapped in a full color jacket.
Dan Burke and Thomas Dimuzio, "Upcoming Events"
Written by Creaig Dunton
Sunday, 28 September 2008
It’s refreshing to hear an album of sonic abstraction that falls into neither of the following categories: minimalist drone, harsh noise, or crossover into other electronic realms. Not that there is anything wrong with those at all, I enjoy many works that fall into those aforementioned categories. But works like this collaboration between the Illusion of Safety member and long time sound artist and master for hire Dimuzio are fascinating in that they are focused only on the nuanced textures of sound.
No Fun Productions
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the 15 tracks that compile this album are based upon live collaborations over a period of only three days. The pieces were not overdubbed or otherwise processed, but only mixed after the performances to give a more cohesive flow. As in any good recording of this nature, the specific instrumentation and tools of performance remain a mystery (the liner notes credit laptops, sampling, and “sound sources”), but their output is captivating. The lengthy opener “Deregulation” begins quietly: electronic loops deep in the mix as fragments of voice and computer data tones swell up, later matched by lush, almost classically dark ambient synths and eventual digital data sputtering, like a hard drive in its death throes.
Some of the tracks also have some obvious intended contrasts: the thick, organ like tones that comprise “In God We Trust” have a distinct holy quality, especially next to the machinery hum and hellish detuned orchestra of “Devil’s Torrent,” which immediately follows. Similarly, the quiet, pitch bent sound of “Operative” is followed up by the heavier “Aggregate,” with a thick distorted synth element that places it somewhere near the realms of current power electronics/death industrial.
Other pieces exist solely on their own, without any easy point of reference to draw: “Infecticidal” is based upon a loop of what sounds like creaking springs, but is matched with what resembles ethnic percussion, thick stabs of noise, and what sounds like birds chirping. It's an odd and somewhat disorienting combination of sounds that these two artists manage to sculpt into a fascinating track that sounds like very little else.
The album closes on an especially odd note with the penultimate “Mediastorm,” consisting of odd chattering noises and dense reverb blasts which resemble the recordings of hurricane forced winds more than anything else. The actual last bit is almost pure silence mixed with the occasional odd sound (it may be the artists dismantling their gear after the show).
Although from live recordings, this collaboration has a distinct cohesive feel that, even with all its abstraction, feels like a fully realized album. While there are the occasional traces of other genres that show up, as a whole it stands on its own as a collection of sonic textures that further listening only expand upon.
Dan Burke & Thomas DiMuzio "Upcoming Events" No Fun Productions Given the subtext of creeping fascism and the slow stomp of totalitarian boots, it is no surprise that the soundtrack for such upheaval, ?Upcoming Events,? is an angry mix of Industrial pounding, locomotive propulsion, and general sci-fi soundtrack eeriness. There is even a fairly long and maddening tape of an encounter with a police officer who only wants to hear obedience, not reason. In its rage and sublte sadness over the political, noise masters Dan Burke and Thomas DiMuzio collaborate once again to create a seamless set of fifteen tracks, mostly cobbled from live shows, that express more ideas and variations of tone and colors than most noise recordings. It is like they are combing through sounds for evidence of the rage building because of recent history; their collage of brutal tones a form of resistance. So many people, at least among those I know, are so mad and scared and unsure that often they can?t express what they feel as the political intrudes so deep into their personal lives. Instrumental music, of the sort here on ?Upcoming Events? seems the proper response. To listen to tracks like ?Deregulation? ?In God We Trust? and ?Freedom Fries,? along with that recording of an arrest, ?Leave Here Right Now? may be the only satisfying outlet for those feelings. Burke and DiMuzio have created and unfortunate, unpleasant, and necessary soundtrack to the distressing times. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (24 September, 2008)