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Mantra Vega - The Illusion's Reckoning CD (album) cover

THE ILLUSION'S RECKONING

Mantra Vega

 

Crossover Prog

3.88 | 113 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars This has been a truly surprising find for me. I know most of the members of this "band" (Heather Findlay, Dave Kerzner, Alex Cromarty, Chris Johnson, and Dave Kilminster) as well as the supplemental contributors (Troy Donockley, Irene, and Arjen Lucassen) but never have I enjoyed any of them as well as I do on this album, in this presnetation of music. It's as if these seasoned prog rockers have stripped down all of their music to the barest of constructs and forms. The end result is stunningly beautiful, breathtakingly simple, deeply engaging and hauntingly memorable. I found myself utterly astonished--moved to my core--with the discovery of each and every song. I couldn't wait to start over from the beginning once it was over!

1. "Every Corner" opens the album in a totally surprising way--beautiful music with Heather Findlay talking over it-- very much like STEVEN WILSON's "Perfect Life" from 2015's Hand. Cannot. Erase. And it works! Well! What a way to open the album! (9/10)

2. "Island" (5:53) (9/10) and especially its reprise, 9. "Island (reprise)" (1:42) (10/10) are gems straight out of the KATE BUSH playbook.

3. "Veil of Ghosts" (6:48) is the most musically complex, heavy and uptempo song on the album (if you can believe that)--and it's "low" point (though it has some truly magical parts--like the double keyboard solos beginning around the three minute mark). (8/10)

4. "Lake Sunday" (6:10) is just as simple and lazy as you might expect from this title. Heather Findlay's vocal in the opening verse gives the song it's country/Linda Rondstadt "Blue Bayou" feel but as soon as the chorus enters it shifts. (8/10)

5. "Mountain Spring" (6:09) comes at you like a great Joni Mitchell or Christoffer GUNRUP/THE AMAZING song. And then the Mellotrons and chorus hit--it's awesome! CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG heaven! Flutes, muted lead electric guitar a la Stephen Stills. Wonderful! (10/10)

6. "In a Dream" (5:20) opens with spacey background keyboard washes and reversed notes of electric guitar before giving way to Celtic flute and strummed acoustic strings and Heather Findlay's folkish vocal. With Troy Donockley's flute play, piano, and anthemic adult & children's choral support, this turns into quite a powerful song--with the message that "we are made of star light." Quite a RENAISSANCE feel to this one, as well. (9/10)

7. "Learning to Be Light" (5:03) is gorgeous in a FLEETWOOD MAC/Stevie NICKS way, hauntingly beautiful in a TOBY DRIVER way. (10/10)

8. "I've Seen Your Star" (6:00) is gorgeously delicate like something from an old SHAKTI (gentle John McLaughlin guitar style) or JAN GARBAREK (wooden flutes) or even K.D. LANG (vocal) album. (10/10)

10. "The Illusion's Reckoning" (9:54) has vocal moments that remind me of the ascendant moments of LULU's amazing 1967 rendering of "To Sir With Love" and others like KATE BUSH in at her absolute best--which is all enabled by the simple musical constructs around and behind her. Heather's amazing vocal melodies are supported throughout by absolutely crushingly beautiful instrumental and choral chords. Brilliant solos from keys in the fifth and ninth minutes. This gorgeous song makes the album end on such a high! Awesome! I am in heaven! (10/10)

I want to make a special comment here: I have never been much of a fan of Heather Findlay's vocals--they just never grabbed me. Until now. The song style used here is the absolute perfect winning formula for her talents: not mixed within the music but isolated above and in front of the minimally constructed instrumental music. Also, because of the chordal structures and keyboard dominance, this album is a real delight for all you Kevin Moore/CHROMA KEY fans.

Though this is an album of kind of pop-oriented simple melodic music, it is rendered proggy by the amazing cast of seasoned prog veterans. They have simplified their musical delivery but done it in such a refined and masterful was as to still have created wonderful music for the progressive rock fanatic.

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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