The Messenger – Illusory Blues (Svart Records)

Tuesday, 22nd April 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

To get a potentially non-necessary disclaimer out of the way, nothing about this release is remotely metal. That being said, it’s still awesome; cut from a similar cloth as the softer-side of early-to-mid 1970s prog-rock. Conjuring memories of Pink Floyd and Genesis at their most ethereal and laced throughout with flute work and assorted odd-and-end instrumentation, Illusory Blues lives up to its title in that it is a sensory tour-de-force of quiet moods and likely heavy narcotic indulgences.

Enchanting, at the very least, is the most apt way to describe opener “The Return,” with its acoustic guitar and flute interplay and very old school fantasy field (it has caused some hardcore nostalgia for The Last Unicorn soundtrack by America, truth be told). Rolling percussion and the frailest of melodies mark “Piscean Tide” and likewise fantastic jazz guitar (and even distortion!) runs rampant on the back half of late-album standout “Somniloquist.” The tides of melody and instrumentation are gradual and handled with foremost care throughout, none of the songs ever in a particular rush to get anywhere for this album, this album is about the journey.

A classic feeling gallop eventually takes hold on the album’s longest cut “Midnight,” a platform from which a smattering of spacey electronics eventually give way to a wall of distorted bass and rhythmic madness. But like anywhere else the fury falls by the wayside in time and the familiar joys of the succulent and melodic quiet surge back to the fore. The right kind of album for these verge-of-summer nights, there are few things I can better picture occupy the open night sky. A curious addition to come across my desk, but one of many I’m more than happy to see come about given the recent overdose of the loud half of 1970s influences. Illusory Blues is a fantastic journey from beginning to end.

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