The Pastels: Stephen McRobbie (guitars, vocals, keyboards); Aggi (bass, vocals, melodica); Katrina Mitchell (drums, vocals, keyboards, melodica, violin).
Additional personnel: Norman Blake, Dean Wareham (guitar, vocals); Jonathan Kilgour, Gerard Love (guitar); Isobel Campbell (cello); Sarah Ward (flute); Dawn Kelly (French horn); Bill Wells (piano); Gregor Reid (percussion).
Producers: Ian Carmichael, The Pastels, Gregor Reid.
Recorded at Cava Studios, Glasgow, Scotland.
Illumination finds the Pastels in a similar mood to its predecessor, Mobile Safari. Scaling back the snappy production and crisp guitars of their earlier releases, the group crafts a collection of subdued, lovely melodies in the vein of the Velvet Underground's third album. While the Pastels lack Lou Reed's lyricism or the Velvets' assured experimentalism, the hushed ambience and sighing melodies of Illumination make it a charming listen. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Entertainment Weekly (1/30/98, p.65) - "Prolific Glaswegian trio the Pastels trot out another avant lo-fi opus....The delicate free-form guitar noodlings (featuring guests for Teenage Fanclub and Luna) evolve into melodies that meander. One fears the whole delightfully complex composition could collapse at any time." - Rating: B+
Magnet (1-2/98, pp.76-77) - "...most of the songs adhere to the band's primary aesthetic--structure maintained by washes of tremelo, off-key vocals, jangle and loose drumming..."
Melody Maker (10/18/97, p.50) - "...The Pastels' most ambitious record to date, less grounded via the traditional Pastel lolling chord change....dizzy with ambition....Listen and be inspired."
NME (Magazine) (10/11/97, p.54) - 7 (out of 10) - "...The Pastels haven't changed....The hits might hurt, but when you've got songs with the intricate, lasting appeal of these, who wants them?"