- Since his early releases on Fat City and Tectonic, Ryan Hunn's records as Illum Sphere have been full of sudden stylistic jumps. His DJ sets leap across hip-hop, psych-rock, EBM, soul, techno and beyond. But Hunn doesn't just blur genres. Even his harder moments, like his recent "Second Sight," have a smeared, shadowy quality suited to nocturnal hours.
The second Illum Sphere album, Glass, shows he can capture that mood in sharper definition as well. This is easily Hunn's starkest release so far, its eerie feeling heightened by its rigid, stripped-back structures. It's also his most cinematic record, with shades of John Carpenter in the brooding synths of tracks like "The Journey" and "Wounded." But it's a sense of space that really gives Glass a widescreen feel. The piano on "Thousand Yard Stare" was the only trace of the live instrumentation on 2014's Ghosts Of Then And Now, an album that occasionally felt too crowded. Here, though, the keys tiptoe over a bare techno beat that toughens over eight gripping minutes. "Oracle" sounds like it's ringing across a vast, lonely ocean. Even when the music is more club-friendly ("Fall Into Water," "Wounded"), the rhythms seem designed to push the album on its journey, not bring dance floors to a boiling point.
The album's final destination is the wintry soundscape of "Paradise." The concept of a journey seems central to Glass, which could have to do with Hunn's move from Manchester to Berlin, something that seems to have brought a new perspective to his music. Glass isn't a concept album, though, nor does it need to be. Music this impressive is a statement in and of itself.
01. The Journey
02. Fall Into Water
03. Red Glass
06. Fuel The Fire
08. Thousand Yard Stare