Chicago's long-running experimental Illusion of Safety collective, now reduced to a less-stable lineup of Dan Burke and Mark Klein, turns briefly from meticulous musique concrete construction to explore various shades of electronic drone. In the German tradition initiated by Cluster and Tangerine Dream, and kept alive by Thomas Koner and Inade, the double-disc OF & THE maneuvers within desolate fields of sound, its blurred melodies nearly accidental, with cores of introspective calm at the center of each lengthy piece.
Monochromatic but far from monotonous, such glacial and ascetic OF works as "P.O.E." are ultimately suffused with glorious rays of light during their final ascensions. The tumultuous orchestral tunings of "Lilt" stretch across eternity as they dissolve like an artful film edit into a thunderous downpour. In THE's opening "Immerse," a tide of lonely strings rises against billows of gray, churning surf. The magnificent burgundy warmth of "Center" engulfs you in a wall of living sound, while clanging ghost trains and spectral ships emerge from the ectoplasmic vortex of "Holding." The closing "No Thing" swallows all sound into a pitiless null-set void, the palpitations of an atomic heartbeat driving the metaphysical engine that digests and devours all stray traces of matter.