[ilisu cover jpg]

phonem - "ilisu"

recent coverage of water disputes in the news (the new york times has fairly extensive coverage, a regrettably dumbed-down article can be found in the village voice) makes this long-overdue review especially timely. the last in a series of albums exploring the political and environmental ramifications of turkey's ilisu project (which, nutshelled, a. displaces and forcibly assimilates the southeast turkey's native kurdish population, b. cuts the tigris river off from downstream nations syria and iraq and c. is of very dubious efficacy. more information can be found at the ilisu dam campaign's website.), ilisu may be phonem's most satisfying and realized work.

while clearly enamoured, like every-goddamn-one else, of the flywheels and stutters of chiastic slide-era autechre and richard devine's old schematic twelve-inches, phonem knows when to stop programming and play it fast and loose. the result is a pleasingly airy sound that makes morr music, rather than, say, vertical form, a logical place to call home. while there's nothing on here as catchy or memorable as syntax, it's an engaging spin, with terrific rhythmic feats and lovely, chiming melodies (some of which wouldn't be out of place on herrmann and kleine's excellent kickboard girl ep) with just a hint of menace, cf. eu's soft.

idm (and to a lesser extent most strictly instrumental composition) isn't an ideal medium for "messages", so it's no surprise that, like matthew herbert's radioboy project, phonem's medium and message are orthogonal. ilisu succeeds as a body of fine music bundled with supplementary information, but if it's isomorphism you crave, you're better off looking elsewhere (but where?). in the final analysis, both the music on ilisu and its attendant commentary are well worth investigating on their own. for now, that will have to do.

for more information, please visit morr music.