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(71:00, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Mystery Train 9:37 2. Sky Song 7:47 3. Moon Turning Red 4:44 4. Dark Hole 6:53 5. High Rider 10:07 6. Float Upstream 7:00 7. Teardrop Explosion 6:26 8. Save Me 7:57 9. What Do We Know 3:33 10. Mystery & Illusion 7:37 LINEUP: Jeremy Morris – vocals; bass, guitars; Mellotron, keyboards Dave Dietrich – drums & percussion
Prolusion. Based in Georgia, United States, JEREMY Morris is a highly prolific artist, with more than 30 albums to his name since his debut in 1984. "Mystery & Illusion" is his brand new album and is his second release on the Russian MALS label.
Analysis. "Mystery and Illusion" is an album that looks back in time for influences, mood and atmosphere. Psychedelic progressive rock with space rock and symphonic leanings dominate the textures explored, the first five tunes in particular exploring one specific musical sound, while the last five are more diversified. The Mystery Train, Sky Song and Moon Turning Red are the first three compositions, and all of them explore a highly similar musical tapestry. Symphonic keyboard textures are found at all times in the back of the soundscape, and sometimes allowed to dominate as well; spacey sounds pop in here and there; atmospheric and psychedelic guitar licks and soloing give the tunes drive and nerve, while the vocals are slightly monotonous and distant sounding. There are some variations in details amongst these three tunes of course, but they are all basically exploring the same musical territory - a landscape that is quite similar to the one found on Hawkwind's "Hall of the Mountain Grill" album from the mid 70's. Jeremy's compositions exchange hard rock riffs and spacey sounds with psychedelic keyboard and guitar licks to a certain extent, but the overall sound and atmosphere is still rather similar, without coming across as a clone or a copy. Dark Hole investigates a similar style as the first three tunes, but now with some darker and heavier riffs from the Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) school, while High Rider is a more brooding affair with musical elements I associate with Gary Numan's earlier recordings. Float Upstream is a more experimental tune, coming across pretty much like a recorded song played backwards, with vocals in a style similar to The Beatles placed on top of this melodic but highly psychedelic composition. Teardrop Explosion is a very different tune, with influences from bands like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream mixed with industrial rhythms and symphonic textures, creating a unique and fascinating atmosphere. Save Me starts and ends with a lush ambient segment. In between those is a song sounding like a mix of Bon Jovi and '70s Genesis. This is another composition deserving the moniker “unique” in my opinion. What Do We Know is a shorter tune with gentle sounding keyboard patterns and melodic guitar licks as the foundation, Beatles influenced vocals on top and spacey sounds in the back of the soundscape, interrupted twice by epic and symphonic keyboard dominated segments. The title track, Mystery & Illusion, ends this album, with acoustic guitars and keyboards mixed in a way that makes me think of classic Genesis for most of the tune, before ending in a distinct keyboard dominated section with more similarities to Vangelis. Jeremy is a highly experienced and skilled artist, and although many influences can be found here, "Mystery & Illusion" is not a clone or a copy of other artists’ compositions. It is a strong release overall, with most tunes excellent and the compositions Moon Turning Red and Teardrop Explosion brilliant in my personal opinion.
Conclusion. Fans of psychedelic rock with strong symphonic elements, especially those enjoying the releases of this ilk from the '70s, should be first in line to check out this release, and the inclusion of elements from space rock as well as the general mood and atmosphere should also appeal to quite a few fans of Hawkwind in my opinion. A solid release, and one I suspect quite a few people will have on their top 10 list at the end of 2008.
OMB: April 16, 2008
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