Of all the disco malcontents of the past decade, I've often thought of Ilya Santana as refined and exotic, the most likely candidate for house music's international man of disco mystery. It might be brought on from pondering his photo on Discogs for too long, where the young Spaniard is caught mid-smoke, forever scruffily handsome and indistinct, staring as if at some distant mirage. Then again, perhaps it's something purely musical, intuited from his always fulsomely produced and deeply disco-rooted productions.
Ilya's already turned out two EPs of excellent tracks with a pronounced cosmic lilt this year, and both Arcanus and his other 2010 Eskimo release Burning Jupiter are well worth investigating, the latter ending with the superlative "Time to Come." The three tracks on Erin retain the futuristic leanings but the bookends proceed at a slackened pace, the better to display their luxurious, sensuous lines and curves. "Erin" is a lovely track, with velvety, sinuous strings and a bass so smooth it's enameled. The crisp drum production keeps you rooted despite all this beauty, a remind of Earth as you stare helplessly as a super-cool spaceship slowly settles down to rest on the surface of a mist-shrouded lake. "Winds of Change" is a different proposition. Spectral swirls and a wonky bassline recall Italian prog, but the strings hint at more sophisticated, less paranormal pleasures. The tempo and intonation of drums and bass are pure boogie, though, providing earthy movement and potent contrast.
The Eurodisco thump of "Iron Horse" is wittily sandwiched between these two. Boney M strings and a robotic whistle dance around pulsar keys, frilly fills, pummeling drums and bass that could've been nabbed from some rock-disco crossover one-off, whether odious or brilliant. It's our boy at his wiliest, and also at his most fun. But even when he approaches cheese (there's something akin to a wah-wah guitar played by a drunk meandering around here), he keeps it sculpturally sound, well-polished and urbane. Highly recommended for lovers of rich, well-heeled disco in the classic manner—space-crusading or otherwise.
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Tracklist: Ilya Santana - Erin EP A Erin
B1 Iron Horse
B2 Winds of Change
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