Reviews on
ILLUMION - "Hunting for significance "

"The Dutch group Illumion was founded in 2002 by Eveline van Kampen, when she made an appeal to her friends at the conservatory and members of the fusion trio Songs of the Exile. Noticeable is presence of quite a few ladies,  (among them Esther Ladiges, who also contributed to Ayreon’s music), which is not a common feature in the world of progressive rock.

The vocal style of Esther immediately reminds of Magenta and The Gathering, but tends a little bit more to the latter because of the somewhat heavier guitars. In the soft passages you can hear influences of Mostly Autumn or Arjen Lucassen’s Ambeon, as Esther’s voice is recorded in several layers. The songs are not particularly lengthy, but do contain tempo and atmospheric variations that keeps the audience captivated until the end. By the use of uncommon instruments such as the erhu (Chinese 2-stringed spike fiddle) and the pipa (Chinese 4-stringed lute), they create an exclusive sound here and there.
The guitar parts of Eveline are heavy but subtle, she does not take the lead, which proves to be advantageous for the overall sound of the music. Perhaps more room could be granted to the keys on the following album. With regard to the lyrics, they have drawn most of their inspiration from famous writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens.

The group also used to play covers of Pain of salvation and Fates Warning. The original compositions of Eveline sound less heavy, nevertheless they tend towards the music of the above mentioned bands. It is clear that Illumion refers to prog colleagues in their genre, however, they do manage to create an original sound. The title of the album indicates that they are really searching for recognition after 7 years, and with ‘Hunting for significance’ they might be able to succeed in this aim. A band to keep one’s eye on.
Rating: 8,5/10

"With a playing time of almost one hour Illumion spreads out the music and takes its time to present a very special musical approach. Prog and Chinese music in symbiosis is hardly anything we have heard of before.
The exception here would be Fairyland from Shanghai and some of Wu Fei’s music. It is natural to ask; will this really work? To make it work the band’s leader Eveline van Kampen has a very good education and has brought in skilled and experienced musicians. From the great prog ensemble Songs of the Exile come Peter H. Boer and Emile Bollard, while vocalist Esther Ladiges, among other things, has sung with Ayreon, Ixion, Sangamo and Unicorn. The cover was designed by Thu Phuong Nguen and
is utterly appealing and the lyrics are of the same caliber. The inspiration comes from travelling in Hungary and China as well as diving in the North Sea! In addition, books by Franz Kafka, Charles Dickens, William Blake, Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde have been a source of inspiration. The aforementioned mix with Chinese instruments is not taken out of the air in any way trying to be original. It stems from Eveline van Kampen actually
studying in China for a year and therefore was influenced by Chinese traditional music and instruments. The music on “Hunting for Significance” is sometimes up to Ayreon’s universe, but not so pompous. It is atmospheric and varied with great emotion and on the whole it is quite symphonic with roots in the more rhythm oriented prog. The exotic elements of Chinese ehru and pipa create a special feeling and are well incorporated into the music. The many females give the special Illumion sound and separate them from most debut albums. It is an indisputable feminine “spirit” in this album which is very appealing and Esther Ladiges
playing the Irish flute is somewhat unusual but great musically. This record grows for every time you play it and that is usually a very good sign. The talented guest musicians contribute to the big variations in moods of this record. “Hunting for Significance” is a very fine debut that stands out from the musical masses in most ways with all its delicious details. In that perspective we can say that the ‘quest for meaning’ – as the title indicates is a success! We look forward to several significant albums from these musicians from the clog country."

"All tracks have a lot more to offer than the simple verse – chorus – verse format. Many, many changes in style, atmosphere, rhythm patterns and arrangements provide the listener with a constant tension, a curious feeling of what on earth will be coming next and this makes this album extremely interesting. The vocalist on Hunting For Significance is another laureate of the same conservatory (Alkmaar, Netherlands) Eveline graduated: Esther Ladiges, who lent her voice to artists like Ayreon, Entropy and Ixion. She’s a graduate in jazz vocals and brings her own style in to Eveline’s music. Esther is not the usual gothic powerhouse kind of singer but she uses her technique and emotion in her versatile voice surprisingly well, although I must admit I would have loved to hear this music with a singer like Floor Jansen. Esther often puts in several ‘layers’ of her vocal, adding to the bombastic character of this kind of music. Eveline plays a few solo’s but allows both keyboards as well as bass and drums to excel as well. The rhythm section of S.O.T.E. does an outstanding job and the variation in sound of both keyboards and guitars is simply amazing. If one listens carefully, one can hear all influences mentioned on Illumion’s website. The overall style could perhaps be best described as a jazzy version of Stream Of Passion, a slightly more heavy version of Magenta with touches of both the Flower Kings and Pain Of Salvation.

The lyrics are written by Eveline inspired by authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens. Although I had a hard time finding the instrument, Eveline plays the ‘erhu’ too, a two string instrument from China with a sound like a kind of violin. The contrasts between jazzy and heavy, complex and melodic, slightly aggressive and more mellow are blended just fine on this album. Illumion is a listening sensation for lovers of more complex but still accessible music, yet references to bands like Aesma Daeva and Stream Of Passion are never that far away. The title of this album has a meaning too: this illuminated group of musicians is indeed hunting to be significant for as many fans as possible and I think with a bit of luck and good promotion they could succeed achieving their goals. A welcome addition to the genre of ‘female fronted metal’ but a truly original one. Well done, Eveline!"

"Hunting For Significance is Illumion's debut release and the brain child of Eveline van Kampen, who not only plays all the guitars on the album, she composed all eleven tracks. Whilst that would therefore suggest that she would steal the show throughout, her understated and intricate playing actually underpins everything else that is going on, although there are many occasions where her playing shines. In fact vocalist Esther Ladiges who came to prominence when she won a web competition to sing on one of Arjen Luccasen's Ayreon project albums is the focal point on much of this gently symphonic, progressive rock album.
Ladiges possesses an interesting voice with a lot of depth, however there are times where she comes across a bit like Kate Bush without the "wow". Having said that the vocals on "Into the Labyrinth" or "Metamorphosis", which sees her mix her Bush leanings with a bit of gentle Tarja demonstrate both the variety and emotion that this style of music requires to hit home. Both of the afore mentioned songs are among the strongest on show, "Into the Labyrinth" in particular shines brightly with a strong Marillion circa Fugazi feel, where "Metamorphosis" has a more grandiose, mysterious approach mixing Ladiges vocals and van Kampen's guitars beautifully with guest musician Annemieke de Boer's excellent keyboards and Peter H. Boer's pumping bass line."

"Formed by guitarist Eveline van Kampen, it would be very easy for me to point a ginger an say 'Magenta' over and over again. But it's a sound that said band have largely abandoned of late, and with Illumion bringing more than a handful of individual touches to the table, there is reason to believe that they could make a splash.

There's a lot of good stuff on offer, and Illumion rock things up more than some of their fellow progsters, something that endears them to me, although possibly not the prog world at large.

When it comes to favourites, there's a plethora to choose from, but having recently rewatched "The Curse Of The Golden Flower", I was well taken with 'Chrysanthemum', which sees a guest appearance from a four stringed Chinese lute. I was also happy to revisit my pre-teen Edgar Allan Poe obsession on 'Under The Harrow'.

A thoroughly enjoyable debut, here's hoping it's the first of many."


"Let me start with eliminating a possible misunderstanding. The music of the new Dutch band Illumion cannot be compared to the likes of Delain, Within Temptation, After Forever, Epica etcetera.
A more suitable comparison can be found in bands such as Magenta and The Gathering.
But where these bands end, Illumion continues. The use of authentic traditional Chinese instruments sometimes gives the music an Asian shine. Furthermore, classical and jazzy influences are not avoided. Therefore, this band is diffcult to place.

Illumion is founded in 2002 by Eveline van Kampen. That year she graduated from the conservatory. Also other bandmembers have a (higher)education in music. This displays itself on their debut album. I dare say, we are dealing here with very strong composed and well-conceived music.

In order to fully appreciate this album, it needs multiple spins. Esther Ladiges' vocals (entropy, Ixion) are responsible for this. It is a voice you do not encounter in 'prog' very often. Her voice is obviously trained and often has a jazzy tone. In addition, the song structures are quite unusual too.
This is the reason why I can enjoy this album over and over again, but at the same time I do understand why other people might cop-out right away.
The hour this album spans is divided over 11 songs averaging just over 5 minutes each and are all of comparable quality. The lyrics portray historical and literary themes and thede themes are mentioned in the booklet next to the lyrics.

Scarlet sin shows a wide variety of technical fireworks of Esther Ladiges. After a few spins, the layered backdrop of subtle keyboard parts and heavy guitar playing unfold to you. Classical influences are audible in Chrysanthemum, and especially in the vocal parts. Guest player Marjolijn Kaiser plays the pipa, a four-stringed Chinese lute, which gives the song an Asian character.

Eveline's guitar playing is strong. With her varied play, she manages to impress defining  accents on the music, as is obvious in Into the Labyrinth. Her short, subtle solos never dominate, something a lot of male collegues suffer from.

It might be coincidence, but Metamorphosis shares striking similarities with the Magenta album with the same tilte. The heavy guitar foundation is alternated with beautiful keyboard playing of Annemieke de Boer (replacement of keyboardist Eveline Simons). Van Kampens  biting guitar solos provide beautiful contrasting colours.

The prophecy marks the beginning of heavier part of the album with a number os guitar orientated songs. Heavy and spacial guitarriffs and airy keyboard sounds in the background. The predominant guitar parts are merely interrupted by Peter Boer’s short keyboard solo.
In the following song Died For Beauty the guitar even inclines to Rush. The versatility of Illumion displays itself on Infinity. Partly due to Irma Vos’ violin solo, this song has a mysterious aura. This song is the first to prominently feature the bassguitar of Boer.

7 years of preparation and designing of Illumion and "Hunting For Significance" has played outside prog scene’s field of vision. Let us hope that the coming 7 years presents us with more of these albums. Also due to the beautiful and polished artwork, this album has an international radiation. A curtsy and applause are in order.

« Back to ILLUMION "Hunting for significance"