As if Manchester didn’t have enough notches in its belt, yet another artist has crowned from the birthplace of The Smiths, The Stone Roses, and The Buzzcocks. Ryan Hunn, better known as Illum Sphere, has been making a name for himself within the electronic world since 2008 when he formed the Manchester club night Hoya:Hoya, hosting the likes of Four Tet, Kuedo, and Ikonika.
Though Hunn has churned out an impressive slew of EPs since 2009, this year brings us his first full-length LP, Ghosts of Then and Now. The record has been released by independent London label Ninja Tune. One of the more talked-about tracks on the album is a collaboration between Illum Sphere and Shadowbox entitled “Embryonic.” However, Hunn chose to release the Lone remix of the song instead of the album version. The Nottingham native Lone, formerly of Kids in Tracksuits, renders a beautifully atmospheric version of the song.
“Embryonic” is slow at the start; single notes melt into each other with a heavy dose of reverb. There is a somber and slightly new age accent to the song as ethereal female vocals merge with the keys. These choral harmonies bring to mind the Celtic eeriness of Cocteau Twins. At first “Embryonic” connotes an artificial ocean, one that could be summoned to the ear through a digital conch shell. Nods at corporate muzak, much like the ones that shaped the internet micro-genre vaporwave, linger around the synth-dipped, retro-futuristic soundscape.
After it’s initial lull, the track picks up in tempo with curt snare beats and twinkling xylophone melodies that add to its oceanic ambience. Early Moby comes to mind, especially considering the song’s specificity to proper setting. Though it’s rhythm becomes more awake, this is far from a dance song. The track suggests motion, but a more repetitive and subdued kind. It would better suit a late night drive than a DJ set.
Listen to Lone’s remix of “Embryonic” below: