Illusion of Safety has been releasing records for over thirty years now, and this cassette (or CD) from No Part of It feels like a cumulative soundtrack of all that he’s done. On Surrender, Daniel Burke works with guitars, synths, and various noise-making devices to craft some intensely spiritual droning tracks, at the same time challenging the listener with the vast assortment of layering that is taking place below the surface. It’s a tough listen not because of its harshness but because of the overwhelming supply of sounds that Illusion of Safety conjures.
The tape edition of Surrender is what I received from No Part of It, and in general all of the tracks tend to meld into each other. On the CD edition, it would be easier to pick out the changes because of track numbering, but with the cassette I’m unable to tell the transitions. In this regard, I can’t really comment on tracks individually, but can speak of Surrender in terms of the whole release.
The way these tracks fold into each other is mesmerizing, moving from one to the other smoothly and maintaining the sense of overall tone. Like the clown cover artwork, this is a veritable carnival of sounds; there are the standard drones of guitar and synth here, but as the tape moves forward, there’s a clever use of silence to space the sounds out. Illusion of Safety uses the silence to form cohesion, slowly shifting between organ chords before diving into beeps and boops of spacey technology. Whistles and warbles combine with a slow rhythmic churn. It’s all somewhat disorienting because of the array of sounds Burke provides, and the use of dynamism really works to keep the listener off-guard.
Side B still has the vignettes of silence with subtle instrumentation in the background, but it also switches off to some heavier, beat-driven performances as well. There are cut-up samples, and there’s a metal-esque rhythm that cuts in almost meant as a rave dance. Illusion of Safety’s tendency to move all over the gamut on Surrender is not a flaw but an example of how wide-spread noise’s subgenres can be, and Burke knows how to incorporate them all into a cohesive tape.
Surrender is a great return to the genre for Illusion of Safety, a release that finds Burke switching expertly between forms of noise for a variety of great tracks. The first side is generally quieter, while Side B opens up for catchy beats, sampling, and a more pronounced sound. Both are good listens, and fans of Illusion of Safety’s work will find Burke has crafted another exceptional record.