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Reviewer : Menno von Brucken Fock

Review - Hunting for Significance

Times of crisis? Not if we're talking about new names in prog-related music, because we welcome a lot of newcomers lately.
Illumion is the brainchild of conservatory guitarist Eveline van Kampen. At the start originals were played together with covers of, mainly, Pain of Salvation. An interresting point is that amongst the inspirations names like Gong, Kate Bush, Loreena McKennitt, PoS, Rush en Nightwish are mentioned. She worked with two members of S.O.T.E., namely bassplayer/keyboardplayer (also the producer) Peter Boer and percussionist Emile Boellaard. Eveline Simons was first asked as keyboardplayer to follow up John de Bruijn, but she is in turn substituted by Annemiek de Boer.
The voice of this album belongs to another laureat of the same conservatory, namely Esther Ladiges. She previously sang in our genre, amongst others with Ayreon and Ixion. That she is partial to jazzmusic, is unmistakenly audible on this album of nearly an hour long. It is not a power vocalist but she displays a lot of technique and feeling. Often multiple layers are recorded, which forms the bombastic character of the music.
The eleven compositions go beyond the simple verse-chorus happenings. The countless changes in tempo, atmosphere, arrangments, and the way od singing of Ladiges make this an album that needs multiple listenings to fathom these ingeniously built songs.
Comparisons are not easy to make, but a heavier version of Magenta, a more jazzy sounding Stream of Passion, with sometimes a touch of Flower Kings and Pain of Salvation, might cover it pretty well. Next to this the listener can indeed recognise fragments of all the names that have been mentioned as her favourites.
Besides playing guitar Evline also plays the Erhu, a two-stringed Chinese instrument. Despite her by no means small qualities she puts herself in a modest place, because namely Boer and the keyboard players get ample room to display their instrumental skills. The drums, difficult because of the ever changing tempi and time signatures, are being played faultlessly by Boellaard.
The lyrics to the songs are inspired by the many books that Eveline van Kampen reads by writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde or Charles Dickens.
The albumtitle is significant, because this enlightened company hunts for recognision and, in my opinion, seems to succeed very nicely, albeit that this less than straightforward music is probably better suited for a loyal dedicated following then for the large audience.
Admittedly no new style but absolutely a different and original nuance within the "female fronted progressive rock": Hats off to Lady van Kampen.