the illtet
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the illtet

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The best kept secret in music



My review of the illtet's self titled debut could be summed up in one word: defiant. The music contained in their six track album simply slips through the firm grip of definition. However, this review would fail without some kind of description of their music.
After I picked up this little EP release I was pleasantly surprised. Since the illtet are a St. Louis based band, and being a St. Louis native, I have had the opportunity to hear them live. To hear them in a studio brings a whole new dynamic to the band. The jams in songs like “op de hoek” become meticulously composed in the studio. Phrases like 'control of sound' and 'an astute use of noise' come to mind while listening to the new illtet disc.

With only six tracks, the four-piece band creates a composition perfect for driving, or reading, or just plain old thinking. In particular, the third track titled “op de hoek”-which means “off the hook” in Dutch (composed while touring/practicing in Colorado) displays the control the illtet have over their sound. Like an exquisite black and white photo, “op de hoek” captures the essence of the illtet’s music with crisp sounds and a heavy electronic influence. You can also hear this same sound on the fourth and more hard-hitting track “a scag ply pup tent.”

The only accurate way to actually describe the illtet’s sound is to imagine if Brian Eno produced progressive rock outfit Tortoise’s Standards. Sterile electronic stimuli encased in a creative, yet semi-traditional rock formula of guitar and drums set the illtet apart from many of today’s performing bands. The album moves into a more organic sound as it progresses to the final track, a beautiful composition that mirrors the sense of relief felt in the recording studio upon the completion of the session. Listening to this “Enoesque” outro can be an emotional experience.

It’s tempting to say that the music makes thought unnecessary but that would be terribly inaccurate. With this EP the illtet have composed songs worth listening to for both their simplicity and thought provoking intricacy, a dichotomy of effortlessness and vital animal drive. Hints of the band’s musical influences such as The Slip, Tortoise, and a vast array of electronica can be found throughout the six tracks; consisting of keys, electronic devices, guitar, bass, and drums, the illtet have transformed a basic rock-band formulation into a wonderful extension of electro-fusion. Using absolute prudence, notes are placed where they belong and only where they belong, a unique approach in the jam band scene. Staying true to the desire for originality that brought the four Washington University students together, the illtet’s music sounds familiar, but you can’t ever pin down from where. This is one of the most appealing aspects of the album and gives it a necessary place in the evolution of modern music. One can only hope for the next record to be this satisfying.

Mark Chaney
JamBase | World Wide
Go See Live Music!

[Published on 8/14/2002]


"Five Quick Questions for The Illtet"

by Kevin Renick

Unfairly lumped in with the jam band scene here in St. Louis, The Illtet is actually an accomplished instrumental quartet with far more of an electronic influence than any of their peers, not to mention an intriguing, forward-gazing compositional aesthetic. Adam Weinberg (guitars, samplers), Patrick Vaillancourt (synthesizer, keyboards), David Saxon (drums, percussion), and David Pinzur (electric/acoustic bass) have the distinction of sounding like no one else in St. Louis, and their self-titled debut is a brisk, disciplined 30-minute excursion down playful sonic sidestreets that take some unexpected curves, but always lead somewhere. The Illtet, recorded at Smith-Lee Studios and mixed by John John, is challenging without being overly self-indulgent, and it's a rewarding listen. Adam Weinberg serves up the answers for this month’s “Five Quick Questions.”

1. How long has The Illtet been together?

AW: About two years. I’ve played with Dave Saxon and Dave Pinzur through college (Washington University). We had saxophone and keyboard, had two gigs with another guitar player. Everyone had so many different ideas...we were just trying to get the right combination. Pat really challenged us. His stuff was so far out; he was into stuff like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. He pushed us really hard.

2. For those who aren’t familiar with The Illtet, how would you describe your sound?

AW: Oh, probably like Tortoise... (Note: one or two songs also sound like Milwaukee’s Pele.) John Zorn is a big influence, but we don't sound like him. We try to make music that moves somewhere, whether it's harmonically or dynamically. It's got the call-and-response thing of a jazz band, but with more sounds than notes.

3. What makes The Illtet’s songwriting process unique? And how about your live shows?

AW: Our stuff is so composed. We pay attention to every detail of the sound. We'll improv short pieces sometimes. We don’t look for excuses to jam; if a tune is just three or four minutes, then that’s IT. Pat has so much ability to generate noise with his synthesizer. We were doing this really pretty thing once, and Pat started making this really disquieting noise. Then I tried to match it...I almost have this rebellious attitude; I won’t even play a chord if it sounds too predictable. I'll try to do something that’s not as standard...Our bass player, though, has a knack for writing melodies. He could be a commercial jingle writer. And Dave (drummer) is naturally talented, likes to catch people off guard. On the first tune on our album he see-saws between live drums and electronics.

Live...we play at Cicero’s a lot. They love us. We’.'ve had the same sound guy for 25 shows. Musically we try to keep it as interesting as possible. We have a core of fans...they egg us on. It’s so integral to our playing to have so many people we know yelling at us. And we had the second highest number of people ever at a Cicero’s show—347.

4. What's on tap for The Illtet’s future?

AW: We’re just hoping to push the album. It's a big hope of ours to generate some interest. I feel like what we do is significantly different from anything else I see here.

5. Any nibbling from record labels?

AW: We've been looking at a few small independent labels. You can't send unsolicited CDs to labels anymore, though. We wanted to push it to Thrill Jockey, but they're not taking demos.

(For more information on The Illtet, see their website at

- Play Back Magazine (St. Louis, MO)

"The return of the Illtet"

by: Jess Minnen

Underclassmen may have heard tales of the Illtet, how they got their start playing in the freshmen dorms, how they brought Jon Fishman back to the sophomore suites to jam in fall of 2000, how they drew large crowds to their shows at Cicero's. But what enters college must, at some point, graduate, and so upon commencement last spring, the band was thought defuct. April 2002 was the last time the Illtet performed together in St. Louis.
Now, eight months later, the Illtet returns, and they are bringing the funk with them. Their unmatched style of bottom heavy, melody driven, electronic instrumental rock back is coming back to home base, Cicero's. Illtet fans the town around couldn't be happier.
Not that the Illtet, made up of David Pinzur on bass, David Saxon on percussion, Patrick Vaillancourt on keys, and Adam Weinberg on guitar and sampler, has been lounging around. So what have the boys been doing? Pinzur did a string of multi-media shows at an Off-Broadway theatre in New York City. The music dug deep into American roots tradition, and was dressed with a touch of punk and experimental. Vaillancourt has been working on a number of computer music projects in St. Louis. One in particular involves programming his Nord to know basic jazz harmony, and then utilizing it to respond to certain outside stimuli in order to create spontaneous melodies and complex chord structures. Saxon ran away to the woodlands of southern Vermont where he studies day and night the secrets of Western medicine, while practicing a new form of drumming he calls Ney-Ver-Pay-Hey. Weinberg helped start another St. Louis band called SHED, which also plays Cicero's and keeps the vibe alive and fresh.
The Illtet is ecstatic to be back in St. Louis at their old haunt, and can't wait to bring their sound back to their old fans, and reach some new fans in the process. The question on everyone's minds is, of course, "What does the new Illtet sound like?" Weinberg himself says it best: "I think it is safe to say we sound like Michael Williams himself."
The Illtet performs this Saturday, February 8th at Cicero's, located at the west end of the Delmar Loop. The Illtet will be headlining the evening with special guest Ph Balance from Atlanta. For more information, check out


the illtet - a chaney birthday (2001 live album)
the illtet - the illtet (2002 studio release indep. release)

some college radio stations


Feeling a bit camera shy


The illtet began in the spring of 1999 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, when four musicians of various backgrounds converged to devote their craft and imagination to the growth of something greater than themselves. Although various pursuits of study have taken the band through whirlwinds of exploration, the illtet has developed a sound that bends and rises, mellows and soars, in an electronic exploration that always remains true to the ideas and influences of the sum of all four members. Combining the traditional instrumental rock format, with an array of modern computer technology that is utilized by each member of the group, the illtet seamlessly morphs samples and electronic beats with the heart of a rock quartet.

The illtet prides itself on integrating their ideas into live performance, creating a musical atmosphere marked by compositional stretching out. Nevertheless, the illtet compose songs that elevate the listener with their refined concept and melodic intricacy, a dichotomy of effortlessness and vital animal drive. Hints of the band's musical influences such as Marc Ribot, The Slip, and Tortoise have made them a sought after group by lovers of many genres.

Ultimately, the illtet wishes to stay true to the desire for originality that brought the four Washington University students together. With a growing fan base rooted in St. Louis and heading east quickly, a list of accolades that continues to grow, and a new self-titled studio album, the illtet agrees that their finest accomplishment to date is that each musical experience proves to be the finest yet.