A record of stunning, perennial beauty as elegant and lucid as it is powerful and cinematic. It sets the benchmark for Floydism of the modern age, with an eagle eyed vision for wavering dynamics and avalanching crescendos, the London five-piece have, in Illusory Blues, a slab of progressive excellence. To say this is a masterpiece would not be a farfetched stretch of the imagination by any means.
What is truly remarkable about this record is that over-driven guitars are a rarity. On Midnight, a song that blurs the lines between flamenco, classical and blues in an acoustic led stroll through a hazy summer afternoon, it isn’t until the final movements of the 8 minute track that the band kick into overdrive. Even then, it is merely used as a flavour to spice up the tonality and dynamics of the song. Sandwiched between a swirling violin solo and mellow acoustics, which close the opus, the section provides a short-lived but breath-taking crescendo.
If what you crave is dirty, instantaneous chaos to batter your ear drums, then this record is not for you. It is far removed from the raw aggression of heavy rock, rather, it draws you in with a mystifying, Floydian psychedelia up there with today’s most revered graduates of the school of Pink Floyd. With added hints of Steven Wilson and Yes, this will delight prog fans of any persuasion.
Aided by a pinpoint accurate, sharp production that sees vocals doubled up, harmonized and sounding like they have been plucked from the most profound of epiphanies, they are just one of the features this album has in spades that makes Illusory Blues so addictive.
Dear Departure, starting off with a brooding, solitary guitar slowly builds in both musical accompaniment and power, yet, like King Crimson before them, they leave that almighty resolve right to the death. It epitomizes their compositional patience, it’s so easy to throw in a stomping finale after a short build up, but Messenger have the ability to hold back and let the music’s profound beauty encapsulate you. Even when Dear Departure when the rocks begin to fall off their sonic mountain, rumbling and battering the earth on their way down, it isn’t a full throttle conclusion – and that’s what makes it so special.
On The Perpetual Glow of a Setting Sun, melancholy guitar harmonies are the focal point while an emotive vocal performance from Khaled Lowe tries its best to make you shed a tear.
Collectively, the band’s musicians have had experience in hardcore punk, black metal, and ambient acts in the past, bringing their trials, tribulations and titillations to the table. Such diversity helps make this record so stylistically expansive. While the music is far removed from black metal or hardcore punk, the emotions that they oft emit are not too dissimilar.
Trust me when I say Illusory Blues is one hell of a record.