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Ilad "The Spoon" (Syjip Records)

Art, temper tantrums and the avant-garde.



Increasingly Richmond's rock bands fall into two camps: those that play clubs and those that play art galleries. Ilad belongs in the latter group. It's a cabal of experimentalists prone to vacillate between extended repetition and chaotic improvisation. The first track on this full-length debut, "Kentucky," inches forward with shimmering electric guitar and spartan drumming before both are submerged in a wash of electronics. The second, "Where's This Place Called Home," collapses halfway into a rhythmic free-jazz fit — with the addition of shrill, garbled vocals that sound a little like a child pitching a temper tantrum next door.

In general, the album inclines toward atmospheric rock, with lyrics buried in the mix. Ilad's cymbal work and flourishes of electric piano nod to avant-garde luminaries Fontanelle, while the band's commingled guitar, keyboard and vibraphone recall instrumental rockers The Mercury Program. Some of these eight songs would benefit from more intricate guitar and keyboard interplay, but at best ("Taste the Time," "Still") Ilad layers sound to create warm compositions without losing momentum. **

— Nathan Lott



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