A short-lived teenaged three-piece from Chicago, Ilium mixed the math rock complexity of the late-'90s Chicago music scene with a melodic prettiness more in line with the Canterbury progressive bands of the '70s. While their two EPs broke little new ground musically, they're extremely listenable and certainly worth a listen or three.
Ilium (named for the fictional setting of Kurt Vonnegut's first novel, Player Piano, a stand-in for the author's then-home of Ithaca, NY) was led by guitarist James Hughes and also featured bassist Thomas J. Quinn and drummer Christopher Robert. Hughes formed the group in high school, heavily influenced by the Tortoise/Gastr del Sol/Sea and Cake axis of Chicago avant-rock, the groove-oriented minimalism of Kraftwerk and the electronica-heavy lineup of Hefty Records, the label started by his older brother, John Hughes III. (And yes, the Hughes boys are the sons of '80s superstar film director John Hughes.) Within a year, the trio signed to Hefty and released the Plexiglass Cube EP, a set of five untitled instrumentals produced by local heavyweight Bob Weston. Paint by Numbers, another EP, this time with six untitled tracks, followed in 1999. However, Ilium split up shortly thereafter, as educational pursuits took precedence. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi