Photo Credit: Brian Ziff
Nicholas Miller creates under the name Illenium. If you look the word up in the dictionary, you will find no entries as the word, technically speaking, does not exist. It is a creation of Mr. Miller himself. But the sound of the word, Illenium, is quite evocative and suggests to those who read or hear it many other words whose meanings it might encompass. Illusion. Continuum. Millennium. It is a name that suggests the future. And Illenium’s latest album Fallen Embers sounds like the soundtrack to life in space. Brian Eno coined the term “ambient music” way back in 1978 and the feeling of this term could certainly be applied to this album, though it runs the gamut of electronic genres comprehensively.
Fallen Embers’ opening track “Blame Myself” featuring Tori Kelly describes the end of an affair, but the aural landscape Illenium creates paints images of lovers fleeing one another in freefall on an alien planet. “First Time” with Iann Dior is a young man spitting game through the ones and twos of the new digital reality. Illenium has provided us with songs on Fallen Embers to set up a vibe of a future that is drawing near to us at the speed of light.
Sonically, Illenium has given his predecessors their flowers. There are shades of Digital Mystikz, nods to Skrillex, of course, but you can also hear Blink-182, even The Utah Saints. But all of these influences are reworked, remixed, and remastered. Tweaked to give a maximum serotonin release reward as surely as an upvote or a like on social media does.
The art of the DJ, from the birth of the culture in Jamaica a distant age ago, is not about the singularity of the song. The DJ does not elicit shouts of “ Play Freebird”, with your lighter lit. A good DJ and music producer feels the room and takes the dancers where they need to go. The songs are tools, vehicles to take us higher. In the case of Illenium, especially with this album, the vehicle is a spacecraft that will take us to a shinier tomorrow.
Illenium has had a massive past couple of years. He has collaborated with The Chainsmokers and Jon Bellion, efforts that landed high in the top 10. He was named on Forbes 30 Under 30 music list. And Fallen Embers brought this young DJ and music producer his first Grammy nomination. Mr. Miller, having now just entered his 30’s, has shown us with Fallen Embers that the future has a vibration all its own.