Review & Interview: Illrecur – “Evolu” is a superb mix of orchestral and synthetic tones!

illrecur has spent the last decade building an impressive resume of instrumental music releases, and if he continues at this pace, his catalog will soon rival, if it has not already surpassed the greatest of music composers, pushing him into the ranks of the true film score masters such as John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Max Steiner, and Jerry Goldsmith. Illrecur is not specifically a film music composer – as he moves through a variety of styles, including ambient, experimental and industrial – but his music on recent releases, including this one, which is entitled “Evolu”, has all the qualities you would associate with a top class movie score. In a catalog of 39 albums, this year alone he has already released 5 albums – “Mnemonics”, “Then were once than”, “Tautochrone”, “Upsodown” and “Evolu”.

The strength of illrecur’s compositions on this album, lies in his ability to tell a story, portraying intensity and emotion, like a plot element of its own. illrecur, which is the moniker used by Ohio based musician, Jeremy Allen Pursell, shows us just how well he understands this artistic mechanism.

He composes masterful movements that can capture whole scenes or highlight specific emotions present within your own mindset. He can build from atmospherics and very light keys to a full crescendo of horns and timpani, then drop decrescendos back to flowing strings before a sharp build and cut.

Another of the album’s strengths is its mix of orchestral and synthetic tones. At no point do the synthetic sounds feel separate or alienated from the orchestral ones. illrecur uses both orchestral and synthetic instrumentation to create brilliant tension and release emotions that wouldn’t have been captured adequately by either of those elements alone.

The tension of strings clashing with reeds or the unison of the percussive strikes, blasting horns, guitars and synth noises, showcases illrecur’s ability to draw the listener into a great audio spectrum which evolves into imaginary visual imagery.

If you only listen to only one instrumental album this year, “Evolu” is the one to hear. The great thing about illrecur’s composing is the way that he can embody all the emotive sounds and textures of the brass, strings and percussion, and bring them together to create a very haunting yet triumphed sound with differing timbres.

Listen his varying soundscapes on the blasting “Don’t Sleep”, then the ominous “Imposition”, as well as the excitable “Restruct Sequence”, to fully grasp how he uses the aforementioned instrumental elements.

In between he finds the time to move off in opposing tangents on the industrial powered push of “Powderburned” and the thunderous bone crushing “Synclastic”. He then slides into ambling experimentation on “Introflex”, before shifting into the piano pageant of “Eminent Threats”, which doesn’t disdain the use of dissonance to draw your attention.

Though illrecur is at his best, providing thrilling and pounding music that gets the heart racing and the emotions primed, he is also well versed in building dark, perplexing electronic soundscapes that simmer and ferment in the mind. Especially impressive in this disturbing musical idiom, are the tracks “Autre” and “Dorrente”.

In short, the album “Evolu” once again showcases illrecur at his best. Whether it’s brooding pianos, swashbuckling strings, snarling synths or pounding percussion, illrecur captures perfectly both the adrenaline-pumping intensity of such instrumentation as well as the natural timbres of their sounds. His music in many ways goes beyond just coloring the sound spectrum of his songs, but underscores the meanings contained within it.


So what goes into the making of a record for you? Do you encounter any challenges or is everything laid out ahead of time?

Jeremy: It usually starts with a small idea. That could be while I am working on something and a melody or specific instrument idea pops into mind. Sometimes I just decide to setup and sit down. I think all artists have their challenges they struggle with. Mainly time consumption, availabilities, and exposure.

When it comes to the fundamentals, what do you think defines YOUR sound?

Jeremy: That isn’t easy to answer. I suppose it could be that I try not to lock down any one particular sound or style. But honestly, each album is its own story and each piece of music is a story inside that story. All of the work is a sort of progression of that. I try to guide the listener a little, because there are ideas and my own memories in there, but its best they interpret for themselves.

I noticed there are some pretty interesting and very different themes. Is that a result of or a factor in choosing particular songs over others for release?

Jeremy: No, not really. I have a decent idea where I am going when I start out with an album. I pretty much know what I want to do. Although, it has happened a couple times that one song fits better on another album, but only when both albums were very closely related and the music fit. As far as styles or genre go, well that could be different from song to song or even within a song.

You’ve been doing instrumentals for a while now, is there a reason you’ve chosen to not have vocals? Do you plan vocals at any point?

Jeremy: Yes and maybe. I’ve gotten asked that quite a bit, specifically from people that have known me for years. I used to sing, when I was younger, for several bands. I’m sure that’s why friends ask. I was a different person back then and times have changed my interests. I sort of lost the excitement in doing it. What probably happened was that I was focusing a large amount of time in creating FX, instruments, sounds, and I got really into it.  Which might have played a role in falling out of habit. While I was doing all of that, I started concentrating on the music and instruments more. How each should be an expression or behavior. And growing up, I always like soundtracks and scores. I mean I put thought into singing every once in a while and who knows. Maybe one day, but I am more than content with the type of storytelling and exploration that I am doing now. I like where this is going.

You’ve completed 39 albums at this point, what is your relationship with old illrecur music? Can you say there songs that you never want to hear again? Are there some that even after the last couple of decades, still feel great to you?

Jeremy: I still go back and listen every once in a while. I have to really, if only to remind myself of an idea that I promised myself that I would do, but had forgotten. I’m unsure whether there are any pieces I have some sort of disdain for. Immediately, I want to say no. I still enjoy them. From time to time, when listening I might skip one if I’m not in the mood or mindset for it. In some ways the older stuff still influences the music today. I feel like have to stay connected to the ideas that started this project. There have been several times that while listening to something I say to myself “Oh yeah, that’s right, I wrote this song.” Some of the older stuff still surprises me when I hear it.

With these five albums, what would you say is the hidden meaning in them?

Jeremy: I sometimes feel like it is cheating when answering a question like that. I like to leave that up to the listener to some degree. So I don’t want to go into too much detail when it comes to the themes in each album. I’m certain we don’t have the time for that either, ha. I can give a somewhat generic answer probably. These albums were a sort of group theme. Sure they were made together, but that doesn’t mean that’s how they are all created. I was thinking a lot about alternate realities meshing and messing with a main reality. There are some of the illrecur themes present, or recalled, hinted, or shouted out to occasionally… so these still feel like sequels to all the music and the previous paths. I wanted to really put out the feeling that something might be off or suspect.

So these albums share some themes? How would you say “Evolu” fits in or is different?

Jeremy: Yes, they definitely share some points and ideas. It is sort of a wrap up of that whole idea. A bringing it all back in from the overall adventure. At least for now. I mean this is an ongoing project, with parts or moments of veering off normal course, and I’m not really planning on ending it any time soon. Not as of right now anyway. I feel like I need to elaborate on that answer a little more. The album starts out with “Can’t Sleep,” creating that song really was when I knew for certain what I wanted to do. It happened early on, in the creation of these albums. That song solidified everything I had already written and thought about. That was one of those songs where it just popped in my head, while outdoors, and immediately had to run inside and fire everything up. And then it just poured out. I listened to it afterward and knew that this was it. I knew for certain that I liked these ideas and where I wanted to go with them.

This isn’t the first time you’ve released multiple albums at once. When you do that is there a particular order or sequence?

Jeremy: Sure! I try to place them on the website in the order in which I intended them to be listened to. The first shown is the most recent, then all the way backward. But I suppose, doing a time travel experiment with them could be fun. Like, listen to them and see how the rearranged music tells a story. I’ve never really thought about it that way before. That could be interesting, I should do it sometime. Especially since some of my stories deal with time and thoughts related to time travel.

You’ve said that illrecur started as an experiment, of sorts, in music. Do you still look at it that way? Do you still experiment when writing?

Jeremy: Absolutely. There is always some new idea or trick to discover or come up with around the corner. I can probably say I do even more experimenting now. I mean the more that I learn or develop, the more there is to learn or develop. I can tinker for hours upon hours with even a certain effect or instrument. There have been times that I have had to slap myself out of it and remind myself that I set out to write. I love every minute of it though.

How would you say your music has changed or evolved over the years?

Jeremy: The ideas are far clearer to me and I have more time for it now. Life is very different than what it once was. There is just more time. Maybe I make more time, I don’t know.

What is the goal for the music? Do you want to see it in shows, films, or games? Do you want fame and fortune for your work?

Jeremy: That is a good question. It makes me think of pieces of music as children going out into the world. Some of my tunes have been used over the years, for different gigs. I think I’d like to see more of that happen. I don’t want really recognition or fame for myself. I don’t have a need to inflate my ego when it comes to music or the world. I appreciate recognition when it comes to any of the works. I think everyone enjoys when their work gets appreciation.

Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written?

Jeremy:  No. Picking favorites or choosing one thing over another is something that I’ve always had difficulty with. I feel like I favor some songs as I am writing them. But I think that has to do with how fresh, exciting, or new it is at the time, while creating one. I can’t say that as some great length of time passes, that I favor one over another. I don’t even know if I could pit any of them against each other for a spot at the top of a favorites list.

How long does it take, for you, to write a single album?

Jeremy:  So, I’m not sure there is enough consistency or fluidity in my music routines to properly judge that. It is always different. There have been many times that I started some albums before I’ve finished or released others. “Evolu” was started way before I released the 2017 “Vex” albums and wasn’t finished until just before release. It is different every time though.

Do you already have any plans for future albums?

Jeremy:  Yes. I have started new music. It is exciting and I am enjoying the process already. I’d like to shoot for a 2020 release, but please… nobody hold me to that. I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. I really wanted an earlier release this time and I just couldn’t get there. 2018 was rough, time-wise, artistically. I’m hoping that last year is out of my way, and out of my system…fingers crossed.

Can you imagine yourself had you not been a musician, what would that be like? Who do you think you be?

Jeremy:  I have a hard time seeing that. I’d probably still be an artist. I grew up sketching, painting, and designing. I still do. I’d probably be leaning toward design though, who knows. I can’t really imagine myself in some life not creating music or doing any of what I do though. I’m pretty grateful for my opportunities and often feel lucky to be able to create and express in the ways that I do.

What advice would you have for other musicians or listeners?

Jeremy:  Probably the same advice to some extent. Expose yourself to music and art that you wouldn’t normally. Turn on a different station, go out and get an album on a whim, or go to a random show. Many artists and musicians are putting a lot of thought into their craft. Many of them are reflecting their thoughts or the world back at people. A lot of new ideas are created and get created from those thoughts. They are telling stories and sharing experiences. Experiences that some people haven’t had. There is nothing wrong with growth.


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