Illusion Of Safety - "Too Late To Exist" (Bridges Intact)
Since the mid-1980s, Illusion of Safety mastermind Dan Burke has produced a steady stream of difficult music, channeling a minimalist and industrial sensibility through the often perplexing notions of phenomenology, culture and psychoacoustics. While earlier albums like Probe and In 70 Countries exploited the use of experimental sound collage, spoken samples — often of torture victims — and unstable noise, Bridges Intact sees the project venturing into less psychologically pummeling territory. The album plays out like a more languid, smoothed-out version of the industrial powerhouses that were earlier albums — not so much Probe, but Violence and Geography and the aforementioned In 70 Countries for sure.
Bridges Intact sees appearances by Ben Vida and long time collaborator Thymme Jones, who make their presence felt immediately on the first track, "Zagreb," a sinister open-room improv piece consisting of minor key piano, soft focus drones, and down-tuned string scrawl. The unhurried pacing and the selective use of instrumentation during the opening seven minutes is reminiscent of the work of Isolde – the collaborative project between Robin Barnes and Andrew Chalk. Eventually, the second track, "Too Late to Exist," overtakes the first in a seamless transition that soon evolves into a flurry — albeit a somewhat placid flurry — of La Monte Young/Charlemagne Palestine style piano smearing, that’s as unnerving as it is evocative.
The remainder of the eight pieces that make up Bridges Intact play out as a combination of muted noise and brooding electro-acoustics. Stand outs include the auditory spelunking of "Crossing Now," an 11-minute recording of controlled feedback and restrained tactility, and "Dismal Water," a dizzying piece of sputtering electronica that would fit right at home on many progressive techno labels.
Of all the championing things that can be said of Dan Burke and his music, his proclivity for stoicism when it comes to the sounds of Illusion of Safety is easily the most preeminent. Perhaps Jim O-Rourke’s influence on him during the primordial years of the group helped steer his sound in that direction, although it’s clear that Burke – along side a revolving cast of other contributors – has faired well without him, evident in post-O’Rourke albums like In Opposition to our Acceleration and In Session that have stood well against the test of time. Time, too, will tell the fate of Bridges Intact, but as of now, it holds as another exceptional set of recordings in the Illusion of Safety repertoire.