Illuminae – Dark Horizons

Posted 190221

Review: Erik Neuteboom

This is a brand-new musical project by Ian Jones (Karnataka) on bass, guitar and keyboards, and Agnieszka Świta (Caamora) on vocals and piano, and  she also wrote compositions.  Agnieszka hailed from Poland (where she studied at the Institute of Music in Lublin) but now lives in London, like Ian Jones. The duo has invited an impressive array of guest musicians on its debut album entitled Dark Horizons (from 2021): Steve Hackett (Genesis), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Troy Donockley (Nightwish), Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson) and Luke Machin.

From the very first moment I am delighted about Agnieszka Świta her voice, what a range and what a sound, from dreamy to powerful. She meanders wonderfully through the 10 compositions that mainly alternate between mellow and bombastic, often embellished with majestic orchestral keyboards and harder-edged guitar work.

My highlights.

Lots of dynamics and tension in The Lighthouse, the one moment dreamy with piano, the other moment sumptuous with classical orchestrations, topped with moving guitar runs by master Steve Hackett (trademark slide and sustain).

Intense heavy guitar solo in the strong track Blood On Your Hands.

The short but compelling song Lullaby contains again wonderful vocals, and a folky/Gaelic element with a harp-like sound and the tin-whistle, we can also enjoy a sensitive electric guitar solo, followed by another, more heavy one.

The intro of the track Twice church delivers a church organ sound, with dreamy vocals, a powerful moving guitar, in a slow rhythm.

Heretics and Prophecy starts mellow featuring tin-whistle and sounds of nature. Then a blend of catchy piano and soaring strings. Gradually the music turns into more bombastic, then again dreamy with intense mellow vocals, and finally bombastic with heavy guitar work. To me it sounds very compelling, the singer shines again, what an asset!

In the song Sign of Infinity the legendary Supertramp member John Helliwell joins with his distinctive saxophone play, blended with sparkling piano.

Finally the titletrack that contains a slow rhythm, slowly turning into bombastic and compelling with fine work on piano and a moving guitar solo.

What a promising duo, and what a debut album, thumbs up for Illuminae!