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Delusion Squared - The Final Delusion CD (album) cover


Delusion Squared

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Unless I am mistaken, with this "Final Delusion", Delusion Squared have delivered the first ever concept-album trilogy! This is no small feat, considering the sum of efforts required to combine music and lyrics in a consistent story, even for "just" one LP...

Here we have the third installment of the "Delusion Squared" story, and its somber conclusion. Warning spoilers ahead! The first two albums get a new dimension when we understand that the heroine is actually subjected to evil military science experiments, much in the way of the movie Minority Report. (If my understanding is correct) both albums depict such experiments, where the girl endures prescience visions of surreal futures. In the third one, things go faster, as the tormentors get her to have a reliable flash of the future, even though she will lose her mind in the process (hence the whole "Delusion Squared" ?)

Musically this is a delight, Delusion Squared have a very distinct sound (for instance acoustic guitar riffs are very recognizable, as are the synth pads and some bass lines) and it is a pleasure to be immersed back in these rich, complex compositions. They are highly melodic, even though some complex rythmic patterns can be spotted here and there ? "Finally Free" is a great example, with the bass, drums and guitars playing seemingly desynchronized tracks, resulting in a strange groove. The albums alternates between high on energy tracks ("The Same River Thrice", instrumental opening tracks sporting a lenghty guitar solo, "Diaspora" dominated by brassy synths, "Finally Free" which sports a very nice electro bridge, "Oblivion for my Sin" very powerful, with some arabic accents), evocative ballads ("Reason of State" with poignant lyrics and a beautiful guitar solo, "Last Day Of Sun" a down tempo piece reminiscent of some Porcupine Tree tracks, "Prisoner's Dilemma" which is a somber ballad, "Black Waters" probably the best moment of the album, "Deus in Machina" has lyrics which connect nicely to the beginning of the first album ! The whole thing is looped I think... clever), and complex, multifaceted progressive tracks ("Patient Zero" which is a slow progression from accoustic+intimate voice to an epic, metal ending ; "Devil Inside" with a classical prog overture followed by a tense but restrained period, then some cinematic sounds and finally a quasi-medieval instrumental interlude!)

The production is very good, better than the first album, on par with the second one, with a mellower sound, very well balanced. The digipack offers a 12 pages leaflet with lyrics and a nicely done "Top Secret" military document excerpt where some words have been censored... I wish they do a tee with that ^^

This is definitely a grower, as were the previous opus, highly recommended!

Report this review (#1162356)
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The third Delusion Squared album, `The Final Delusion', will hopefully be anything but that, as the French three piece offer their most fulfilling, varied and exciting album to date and have so much more promise to build on from here! The band, led by the distinctive and charmingly accented Lorraine Young (singing in her best English so far), alongside Steven Francis (guitars, drums) and Emmanuel de Saint Méen (bass, keyboards), offer a mix of contrasting acoustic and electric passages, punchy and sleek Rush-style heavy prog, Porcupine Tree-like emotional acoustic flavours, the sombre gloom of Paatos and a dash of introspective indie pop, with the emphasis on melodic vocal driven songs and only carefully tightly framed instrumental moments. The band will likely appeal most to fans of the more modern takes on progressive music, as there's very little vintage or retro influenced sounds throughout.

The ideas behind this concept work are certainly a lot to dwell on and ponder. Mind-control, gene experimentation, torture, modern warfare and mental manipulation all feature, with frequently dreamy and surreal lyrics that move backwards and forwards through different time frames. Even with little moments of bridging interludes of conversations between and during tracks, following the story can be quite confusing, and the CD booklet only offers help in the form of some cryptic leaked (and I'm assuming mock?!) government documents. I hope I've been able to grasp the basics of the concept of the album, otherwise the guys and gal of Delusion Squared are welcome to contact me and set the record straight!

Immediate attention must go to Lorraine's shrieking gasp over a battery of storming drums that opens the first proper track `Diaspora', it instantly makes you sit up and take notice, wondering `What are we getting into here?!', as well as showing off the confidence of the band. Nice soaring chorus on that one too! Lorraine also supplies plentiful delicate acoustic guitar throughout the disc, full of warmth in even the most melancholic moments. There are nice varied electric guitar approaches and reflective piano throughout `Reason of State', beautiful use of feedback-drenched electric wailing and distorted synth on `Devil Inside'. `Finally Free' sees the acoustic and electric guitars racing alongside each other in a late Porcupine Tree manner, some hazy ambience throughout the ethereal synths of `Last Day of Sun', and the mix of lilting acoustic guitar and orchestration on `By The Lake (Dying)' is impossibly heartfelt. Thick snarling metal tears through `Oblivion for My Sin'. You also get driving instrumentals like album opener `The Same River Thrice', full of heavy riffs, constant powerful drumbeats and pulsing Neo prog influenced synths, `Persistence of Vision' instead builds atmosphere by way of Post-rock chiming guitars and thick murky bass. `Deus in Machina' closes the album with soaring orchestration, victorious guitar soloing and a rising vocal that displays defiant human spirit and true heart.

Without a doubt, thirteen tracks is probably far too many, and several of the pieces have quite a similar sound. However, once you become more familiar with the whole album, it has a great flow and you won't notice the lengthy running time so much. Some will find Lorraine's thick accent difficult, but I think she has real character and great spirit. Fans of the later Porcupine Tree albums and modern female fronted prog bands should look into Delusion Squared right away, and in some ways, the group are a much deeper and more complex version of acts such as Touchstone and The Reasoning, maybe even a gutsier, less vintage based Magenta. `The Final Delusion' is a triumph for melodic vocal driven modern prog that places emotion, melody and subtlety over flashy extended bloated soloing, and the trio should be immensely proud of their efforts here.

Four stars.

Report this review (#1278628)
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3½ stars really. DELUSION SQUARED is a French trio consisting of Lorraine Young (vocals, acoustic guitars), Steve Francis (guitars, drums) and Emmanuel de Saint Méen (bass, keyboards). I was kindly asked to review this new album that finishes a trilogy. Crossover Prog with female vocals is something I can easily warm up to, and listening to some YouTube clips convinced me I would most likely enjoy their music.

The 73-minute, 13-track conceptual album is divided into four sections: Ordeal, Awareness, Deliverance and Surrender. At first the music sounds like slightly hard-edged, commercially oriented mainstream pop (up to Lorraine's voice), except that the energetic opening instrumental - distantly reminiscent of synth-era RUSH - wouldn't be completely out of place on an IQ album for instance. During the fast track 'Diaspora' my spouse came home and wondered which pop/rock radio channel I was listening to (against my habits!). That's revealing about the sound, but to my relief the sense of blunt consumer pop decreases notably on the course of the album. This is helped by bringing in some softer nuances and acoustic elements. However the overall production could be less tight and poppy, as we're speaking of a prog album after all.

Some rather annoying effects (machine beeps, spoken words, etc.) are placed between some songs. These may be carefully thought up to support the concept; too bad I actually fail to form any coherent "story" in my mind. Listeners familiar with earlier parts of the trilogy probably are better on the map in the first place. My personal musical highlights include the atmospheric 'Last Day of Sun', the calm 'By the Lake (Dying)' and the sorrowful second instrumental 'Persistence of Vision'. In other words, I prefer the more delicate side with acoustic guitars and moody synth layers, moments where e.g. PINK FLOYD and MARILLION are closer comparisons than the pop you hear in fast food restaurants. Anyway, I believe this album (or preferably the trilogy as a whole) is a grower when one gets deeper into it in various levels.

Report this review (#1286628)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars French trio DELUSION SQUARED is a comparatively new band, formed back in 2009 and released their debut the following year. Since then an album has followed every two years. "The Final Delusion" is their third full-length production, self-released in 2014.

The fairly gentle material that dominates this album, paired off with controlled, harder-edged impact sequences and occasional compositions with a dominant hard-edged sound, is one that should invoke quite a lot of interest by those who come across this production. A certain affection for female lead vocals is required of course, and then for vocals that are characteristically careful and with a strong feeling of innocence to them. Those who enjoy the gentler sides of a band like Porcupine Tree appears for me as a key audience for this CD, and especially those amongst them with a taste for futuristic sounds and science fiction based concept albums.

Report this review (#1427600)
Posted Wednesday, June 17, 2015 | Review Permalink

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