I am coming out of blog retirement to write about Terminally Ill, the latest album by ill.Gates. As I dusted off the WordPress dashboard, I noticed that my last blog post was in 2012 and it was when ill.Gates released Church of Bass. Apparently his music motivates me.
Terminally Ill starts out slow and steady, warming you up with melodic synths and solid bass lines. “Flying”, a collaboration with Stephan Jacobs and vocals from Jackie Rain, is a perfectly produced track that sounds like it could be on tv or in a movie. I usually start the album when I am first getting in my car. Back out of the driveway and 54 seconds into the song, you’re moving. It really is a perfect song to start the album with…gentle but energetic.
The next few of songs are great and fit the same kind of vibe and then track five starts. “Bounce” featuring Mayor Apeshit hits you with the beats that make you want to move. For someone like me who is listening in the car, this is the song that makes me say, “Screw it. I don’t care who is looking at me. I’m going to move my head around and bounce in my seat. Hell, I might even roll the window down and slam on the side of the car with my hand!” It’s that serious.
Once you get moving, it’s on and next comes “Shine” with that sweet, sweet bass and vocals from MasiaOne, Pure Powers and Nuberto. You will recognize MasiaOne’s vocals from other ill.Gates hits, including the epic “Irma Vep” from Autopirate.
Things are still going good. “Workflow” featuring DropStars changes things up a bit with some catchy synths, rapping and tongue clicks? Let me see your workflow. Love it!
“Sankar’s Lake” is a song by CloZee, who if you haven’t checked her out, you must not like music. She is a French producer who has been getting out there for awhile now and her Soundcloud is full of full length live mixes as well as original tunes and remixes. Her song Sankar’s Lake was remixed by ill.Gates and it is awesome! It has this house drop at 2:36 that I just love.
“Unsung Heros” is a collaboration with KJ Sawka, who uses acoustic drums for live drum and bass. This song has heavy basslines over some audio from Mario Savio, who was a political activist and a key member in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. He was most known for his speech he gave in December of 1964 that was later called “Operation of the Machine”. ill.Gates included samples from the speech in this song and those vocals along with the heavy drum and bass are inspiring. “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”
Terminally Ill ends with two more songs that are a little slower because that’s how albums work. They wind you up and then they bring you closure. “More Tea” is my favorite song on the album. This song has 3 of my favorite things: Japanese strings, samples of someone talking about tea ceremonies, and Bruce Lee talking about being like water.
“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”