Music » Critics' Picks


Monday, November 17; the Rocket Bar


Ilya, a sextet from San Diego, has been together for little more than two and a half years and has already toured Japan once and the States twice. The talented group is currently on its third domestic tour (all three have been this year!) and is once again slated to grace our city.

Being busy breeds fecundity, and the cover image on Ilya's debut, Poise is the Greater Architect -- a girl cupping a small bundle of eggs in the bottom of her dress -- is a blatant symbol of fertility. Such cover art creates the expectation that the band will be fertile with ideas, and at six members strong, it'd damn well better have a surplus of them. Not to worry, though; each member brings plenty to the table. Singer Blanca Rojas's voice is at once both crystalline and sultry -- an odd clash of innocence and experience -- as she delivers lamenting lyrics with stylish conviction. Geoff Hill's drumming, whether he's gently brushing a jazz inflection or forcefully driving a rock rhythm, remains smart and determined. The bassist, John Mattos, builds dense yet fluid structures on which guitarists/keyboardists Hank Morton and Matthew Baker hang their dark and delicate atmospherics. Duane Pitre, ex-Camera Obscura guitarist and former professional skateboarder, is fond of using a bow on his guitar, creating cascading sheets of noise. Collectively, the band members work together to form an elegant blend of cool ambiance, silken pop and alluring trip-hop with a dark yet reassuring tint.

As the past two St. Louis shows have evidenced, Ilya is not to be missed. Third try's a charm, and you have another chance to see the six of them cram onto the tiny Rocket Bar stage and birth another spectacular performance.