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(58:57, ‘Delusion Squared’)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Very Day 4:09 2. In My Time of Dying 5:52 3. Copyrighted Genes 7:06 4. The Betrayal 5:11 5. Sentenced 5:51 6. By the Lake 3:12 7. By the Lake-2 4:16 8. Rebirth 6:42 9. What We Will Be 6:05 10. The Departure 2:44 11. A Creation Myth 7:49 LINEUP: Steven Francis – guitars; keyboards; drums Emmanuel De Saint Meen – bass; keyboards Lorraine Young – vocals; guitars
Prolusion. The French trio DELUSION SQUARED was formed in 2009, and so far has preferred to keep a low profile as far as any further background goes. The band issued their self-titled debut effort in the fall of 2010, and as many artists opt to do these days, they released the CD themselves.
Analysis. Those who have watched the progressive rock scene closely the last few years have probably noted that there is a growing number of artists who want to be credited with exploring this particular style. The number of newly formed acts is more or less exploding, and amongst the plethora of choices of new additions to the genre we find Delusion Squared, making their debut with a science fiction-based concept album, with a full-fledged story divided into four chapters and one that has a definite end as well. This is a story that won't be easily continued or further explored, which is a nice change from other productions of this kind where loose threads are often left for later chapters. Musically we're dealing with a band that has a contemporary approach to the art rock universe, blending a myriad of influences in an original manner. Unspecified art rock, neo-prog and progressive metal are the key ingredients, with a few touches from the electronic and symphonic departments added in for good measure. The initial forays into this concept are made with compositions where the acoustic guitar provides the thematic foundation, where heavier guitar riffs are applied in the second half of the songs, changing the stylistic expression and overall mood in a manner much more neat and natural than this description suggests. On later efforts this specific approach is slightly left behind, as other compositional blends are tried out, but with a general tendency to open the songs in a gentle manner and add darker, more massive and majestic features as they evolve. Electronic sounds and rhythms have their natural place in a science fiction concept creation, lighter toned staccato guitar riffs provide a nice alternative to the fragile acoustic guitar, and the dampened yet massive guitar riff motifs are often utilized, the archetypical art rock organ has its place just as much as gently fluctuating symphonic backdrops, and gentler harmonic guitar and keyboard motifs, particularly of the neo-progressive variety, are also present. Clever use of digitized voices is a nice feature on a select few occasions, but the central element throughout are the vocals of Lorraine Young, voicing the lyrical topic and its central character in an effective manner and opting for a tightly controlled voice with an emphasis on a fragile sounding delivery that effectively accentuates many of the traits of the concept story at hand. The few occasions that warrant a richer and more powerful voice are delivered with style and flair as well, and I surmise that the extent of her talents as a lead vocalist is one that will be explored more thoroughly when or if this talented outfit starts creating the next chapter of their life as a recording unit. Delusion Squared opts to stay within the melodic and harmonic realms this time around, and staying put in that territory seems to suit the talents of these musicians quite nicely. They are skilled and talented enough to add subtle details and compositional features to create both intriguing and enthralling music within such a context, with stylistic diversions used to good effect to maintain a high level of interest as well as craftsmanship throughout.
Conclusion. I have encountered quite a few debut efforts from 2010 so far, with more to come. Delusion Squared is most certainly among the most interesting ones so far, and is a band with an album that warrants a check by those who like their art rock contemporary and diversified. While different in scope and expression, at least to some extent, I'd suggest that those with a soft spot for artists such as Porcupine Tree might fancy spending some time getting more familiar with this album, and much the same can be said for fans of bands like Riverside as well as neo outfits like IQ and Believe.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 8, 2011
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