Friday, 23 August 2013

Max Lilja - Plays Electronica By One Cello

Album review by karla@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


Max Lilja is best known for his success as a founding member of Finnish cello rock band Apocalyptica, whose ferocious appetite for combining their classical training as cellists with their love for metal saw their 1996 debut album, 'Plays Metallica by Four Cellos' consist of  8 uniquely experimental, instrumental Metallica covers. Fast forward 17 years to April 2013 where the release of Max Lilja’s solo debut album, 'Plays Electronica By One Cello' has revealed his penchant for ingenuity is still efflorescent. Composed of 10 instrumental, electronica songs, written and played by Max on electrified and acoustic cellos, we might be a lifetime away from Max's debut album with Apocalyptica yet there are still small yet undeniable, indispensable similarities between the sound created then and what we are hearing now. 

Max may have plunged head first into relatively new waters by adding a contemporary electronic twist to classical cello music but there’s an underlying ethereal darkness that elusively trickles through the electronic vibes marking some of the tracks with a kiss of death. Yes, the album speaks in many different magnificent tongues and each voice is a polite conversationalist who waits patiently before unravelling their separate secrets. Opener 'I Sound My Sound' loosely chugs and rattles before soaring to euphoric almost orgasmic acoustic cello, heights. 'Now' follows with spooky chiming bells, and has a huge dark electro- industrial kick that doesn't distract away from the organic cello melodies. 'A State Of Mind' was probably recorded underwater next to a school of fish. Gargling aquatic beauty, it's your perfect soundtrack to a day of snorkelling.

'Count Phase' constantly changes pace and direction and has an '80s electronic meets Celtic folk vibe. 'Like This' juggles a sense of urgency and apprehension in its bassline, 'It Is In' is sharp and pulsates with a kraut edge. 'The End' is soft, slow and tender, reminding us of the power of the cello.'You Me' starts with a head rush of electronic sound and is almost trance-like. Then there’s 'Qualified' that has a somewhat jumpy hip-hop beat under desperate, echoing cello lines and lastly there’s the shrieky, intrusive 'In SoS' that creeps and cries and conjures slightly oppressive, crunchy imagery. 'Plays Electronica By One Cello' seems to be classically timeless yet comprised of a breezy modernity and a grandeur which sees that no two tracks are the same. In terms of contemporaries, Max Lilja stands niche-less and impenetrably alone waving an educating flag out in welcome to a whole new cross-breed of fans.




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