Equally adept at making abrasive yet melodic IDM as well as upbeat, experimental electro-pop, American electronic musician Jeff McIlwain produces a wide range of material under the name Lusine.
Initially billed as L'usine or Lusine Icl, his early releases for labels like Isophlux and Hymen often consisted of intricate, pinprick beats and bright, expressive melodies, while also exploring downtempo hip-hop and glitchy techno. After moving to Ghostly International and shortening his name to Lusine, he produced his most accessible work, emphasizing abstract yet danceable beats on 2004's Serial Hodgepodge and incorporating a greater presence of lyrics on subsequent releases like 2009's A Certain Distance and 2017's Sensorimotor.
Originally from Dallas, McIlwain studied 20th century electronic music and sound design at California Institute of the Arts. He started producing music as L'usine (French for "the factory"), and after meeting Shad T. Scott, co-founder of Miami-based experimental electro label Isophlux, the Coded EP and debut full-length L'usine were released by the label in 1999. A Pseudo Steady State, credited to Lusine Icl, was released by U-Cover in 2000; its tracks were split across two 12" EPs released by Hymen Records, Freak and Slipthrough. Limited live release Coalition 2000 was issued by U-Cover in 2001, and a second EP for Isophlux, Surface, came out the same year. Full-length Iron City was co-released by Hymen and Mad Monkey in 2002; also appearing that year were Sustain, a 10" EP bearing a remix by Funkstörung, and a split 7" with the Buddy System. Around the same time Lusine Icl's Chao EP was released by Mental.Ind.Records in 2003, McIlwain signed to Ghostly International, going by the shortened name Lusine (Armenian for "moon") and releasing the Push EP. A collection of tracks from compilations and vinyl-only singles, Condensed, was issued by Hymen the same year.
Lusine's first Ghostly full-length, Serial Hodgepodge, appeared in 2004. Non-album EPs Inside/Out (2005) and Emerald (2006) preceded remix album Podgelism, which was released in 2007 and included mixes by Matthew Dear, Apparat, and John Tejada. Additionally, McIlwain returned to Hymen (and the Lusine Icl moniker) for the minimal, ambient full-length Language Barrier that year. Back on Ghostly, A Certain Distance appeared in 2009, featuring guest vocalists Vilja Larjosto and Caitlin Sherman. Both singers returned for the more overtly poppy The Waiting Room in 2013, which also included contributions from McIlwain's wife, Sarah. The Arterial EP was issued in 2014, and Sensorimotor, which featured Benoît Pioulard in addition to Larjosto and Sarah McIlwain, arrived in 2017. The Retrace EP, this time featuring Jenn Champion and CIFIKA, appeared in 2019. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi