Adam Miller, a founding member of the erstwhile Chromatics, has already given us a taste of the Illusion Pool EP that dropped Friday. Back in September he released two, Lol Tolhurst-featuring cuts: the extraordinarily dreamy title song and the haunting cover of The Byrds’ “Everybody’s Been Burned.” (I wrote about those cuts at the time; check it out.) Now that we can hear the other three songs, it’s pretty clear that the EP is yet another big statement from Miller that Chromatics’ 2021 disbandment was by no means his retirement.
Take “Camera,” a cut originally from Italians Do It Better’s 2013 After Dark 2 compilation that featured Miller’s trademark vocoded vocals and Chromatics’ sultry dreaminess. This time around Miller keeps the core elements of the song that make it one of the band’s best, but he uses a compositional position that draws from the live version his new band, Inner Magic, has performed in recent years. Chromatics were a cinematic outfit for about three-quarters of their 20-year run, but Miller elevates that sensibility here. He adds an inherently human sense of tension that was missing from the 2013 version and which was a bit more apparent on the Ruth Radelet-fronted 2018 version from the Camera EP.
“Blood on the Moon,” featuring the enchanting lead vocals of Hannah Lew, stems from a demo Miller recorded years ago. It certainly has the feel of deep cut off Night Drive or Kill For Love but with a more organic production and a bigger, airier headspace. The lead guitar recalls the forthright, post-punk pluck of Miller’s 2022 debut solo LP, Gateway. Lew’s lyrics artfully describe the tension between civilization’s “progress” and nature’s own charter.
The brief, buoyant instrumental “Vincent” closes out the EP. Fittingly, Miller says it’s his homage to The Durutti Column and its founder, Vini Reilly. He does a great job of capturing the feel of the complex, interwoven guitar work of Reilly, but he also nails the catchy, melodic quality Reilly unfurled effortlessly.
Miller’s first foray into his solo career began with the intricate and beautiful instrumental Gateway, a look into a Vini Reilly-nodding side of him that we rarely heard in Chromatics. Illusion Pool exhibits meaningfully the other elements we’ve come to rely on over the years. Ultimately, the EP is a profound artistic statement in a small package that showcases Miller’s extensive musical talent, reinforces the concept that his decades-long career has been influential on several subgenres of rock and electronic music, and provides a clear sense of wonder for the road ahead.
You can purchase Illusion Pool via Bandcamp (which Vehlinggo recommends) or you can stream it via your typical services.
(ICYMI, check out this Miller interview on the erstwhile The Vehlinggo Podcast from last year.)