Album Reviews

    San Diego trip-hop outfit Ilya’s popularity has steadily grown, garnering a San Diego Music Award nomination and drawing attention to their live shows. Their debut album, Poise is the Greater Architect, a mesmerizing blend of pulsating beats, sonic soundscapes and distant vocals, shows why.

    Opener “”Isola”” begins with heavy synthesizers that set the stage for frontwoman Blanca Rojas’s icy drawl. Occasionally, she breaks free of the noise to allow for swooping vocal crescendos, but Rojas’s vocals are often an afterthought to the noisy atmospherics. When audible, her vocals can be dramatically effective. On the album’s centerpiece, “”Blatchford,”” she turns the seemingly meaningless phrase, “”I ask myself, ŒHow do I look? And does it matter?'”” into a haunting mantra.

    The music isn’t entirely distinctive ‹ think Portishead or Bjork at her least confrontational ‹ but the band makes up for it by sounding active, breaking the lull with unexpected noise explosions in “”Disturbed”” and male counterpart vocals in “”I Want to Know.”” If the group keeps this up, losing San Diego Music Awards to no-talents like Switchfoot will no longer be an issue.

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