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Mantra Vega

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Mantra Vega The Illusion's Reckoning album cover
3.84 | 121 ratings | 3 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Every Corner (2:25)
2. Island (5:53)
3. Veil Of Ghosts (6:48)
4. Lake Sunday (6:10)
5. Mountain Spring (6:09)
6. In A Dream (5:20)
7. Learning To Be Light (5:03)
8. I've Seen Your Star (6:00)
9. Island (Reprise) (1:42)
10. The Illusion's Reckoning (9:53)
11. Mountain Spring (Acoustic version) (6:02)

Total time 61:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Heather Findlay / vocals, percussion, low whistle, semi-acoustic guitar, co-producer
- Dave Kerzner / vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar, sound design, co-producer
- Dave Kilminster / lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars
- Chris Johnson / lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars
- Stuart Fletcher / bass
- Alex Cromarty / drums

- Troy Donockley / vocals, lead guitar
- Irene Jansen / vocals
- Angela Gordon / vocals, recorder
- Arjen Lucassen ​/ lead guitar
- Remko de Landmeter / bansuri

Releases information

Artwork: Heather Findlay

CD Black Sand Records ‎- CDBSAND3 (2016, UK)

Thanks to tszirmay for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy MANTRA VEGA The Illusion's Reckoning Music

MANTRA VEGA The Illusion's Reckoning ratings distribution

(121 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

MANTRA VEGA The Illusion's Reckoning reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Dave Kerzner AND Heather Findlay? Are you kidding me? Two of the brightest stars in Progland working together is a sublime blessing and a nearly divine revelation. The musicianship here borders on perfection, extremely expressive, technical and so very very cool. What else could one expect from such a dynamic duo, a master musician /producer of the very highest caliber whose recent solo album 'New World' raised the bar very high with a scintillating effort both musically and sonically. Pink Floyd, move over, your time has come and gone! Kerzner's work with Sound of Contact made some serious waves until Simon Collins got arrested that nearly killed his career, but Kerzner had already this project in mind , uniting with lovely and talented Heather Findlay, Mostly Autumn's original vocalist, a gem on those fine first 8 albums, almost marrying Fish and then staying away from the spotlight a tad to plan her next step. She has been touted as prog's finest female voice and a thoroughly enchanting visual presence to boot. The two are dynamite together, Kerzner surely demanding the very highest standards of excellence and Findlay more than able and willing to deliver. Surrounded by the finest UK musicians such as the magical Troy Donockley on Irish pipes, vocals and guitars whose work with Iona, Nightwish, The Enid and countless others, needs no further acclaim. Add the tremendous Dave Kilminster (who blew my mind as Steve Wilson's axeman on his latest tour) is rock solid and deadly precise. The rhythmic tandem is so tight, they may need surgery to separate them, Alex Cromarty is a first rate basher, one of those hard hitters that like to remind music fans that they rock too. Bassist Stu Fletcher is too deep in the mix but occasionally really shines brightly. Chris Johnson is the unknown to me card, knowing him from his stint in Mostly Autumn. Ayreon's Arjen Lucassen guests on the stunning title track, leading the cast of guests who provide cameo spots throughout.

Everything about this release oozes class and distinction, from the splendiferous artwork, the quality packaging and the pristine sound to the sheer excellence of the song writing, a true accomplishment of the highest order. Upon the very first listen, the qualities leap forward immediately and on a multitude of levels. Blended emotions into the poetic words, various human subjects are addressed, such as depression, hope, faith, solitude and forgiveness. Musically, there is a great amount of diversity and stylistic adventurism, each song fitting nicely in the procession, purpose and determination ruling the waves, from the misty piano-fed contemplation of the intro "Every Corner", where Heather narrates dreamily to the epic finale that gives the debut album its name. A suave "Island" is the 'single', though entirely not a commercial song, just a beautiful piece of romantic music that strikes the heart and impresses the soul , both male and female vocals in a sultry duet , shoved gently along by Cromarty's steady pulse that gives the arrangement an almost Fleetwood Mac-like feel. Kerzner provides a shimmering ivory carpet to work on, piano, organ and synths all in harmony, and crowned by a sensual guitar solo from Kilminster Lyrically, uncertainty and doubt find refuge in solitude.

The ambitious "Veil of Ghosts" showcases Heather's emotive singing style, a sincere and devout passion that knows no bounds, flying over a foundation that owes a lot to classic Led Zeppelin mostly due to Cromarty's meaty drumming. Hints of Kashmir swerve uncontrollably, with Kilminster and Donockley both providing swirling guitar pyrotechnics. A thunderous piece of moody music, indeed. Rekindling memories of classic early Mostly Autumn, "Lake Sunday" presents a massive melody expertly marshaled by Heather's seductive voice, allied to some fine guitar work from Johnson, a bluesier, more country-styled technique that fits nicely the mood. A thrillingly laid-back mid-section does wonders to the anticipation, a gentle organ flurry amid the tapping drums is a real highlight as the tune gently fades into the misty, waterlogged horizon.

"Mountain Spring" is another crest that does not fail to impress, an intoxicating slice of inquisitive musical genius, buttressed by spiking keyboards, choppy guitars and Heather's celestial vocals. Urgent, insistent and relentless, the spirit of yearning is expertly addressed and delivered. Kilminster in particular delivers quite a show on lead guitar, as the lovely Heather Findlay bellows mightily in the background. Guest Angela Goldthorpe does wonders on the recorders, edgy and desperate. The pastoral beauty of "In a Dream" is perfectly dosed to prevent any redundancy , a surprisingly fragile loveliness, both with lead voice, choir work, mandolin and the exotic south Asian flute known as bansuri taking the listener into another world, child voices adding to the fantasy.

A hushed voice and a binary beat introduces the glossy "Learning to be Light", a smoother than silk ride that does not fail to surprise and delight, giving guitarist Chris Johnson the platform to squeeze some tight notes from his instrument, a bluesy, dreamy composition that gets the job done big time. Things get really introspective and mellow on the crushingly exquisite "I've Seen Your Star", an acoustic tour de force , a tranquil universe that is simple, gorgeous and addictive, fueled by acoustic guitars, bansuri flute and Kerzner's harmonium leading the way. Sheer magic.

There is a brief reprise of the magical "Island ", in order to prep that table for the album's unmitigated high point, the tremendous 9 minute 53 second epic that gives this work its title. While some pieces here lean more towards classic rock or even classic folk, this monument is outright progressive rock, a slow cooker that is in constant ebb and flow, lyrically very profound and musically exploratory, proving unquestioningly the prowess of Heather Findlay's voice and the rather unpretentious musical foundation provided by Miami-man Dave Kerzner and his cohorts. Chris Johnson provides most of the guitar work but smartly leaves the spotlight to Arjen Lucassen to shred mightily and at length. His shimmering, slippery and jittery solo is perfect timing and delivery, adding to Dave scorching synthesizer additions. Magnificent!

An acoustic version of "Mountain Spring" is added as a bonus track, a slightly different take than previously stated, a gentler version that presents that vocal work in greater light, proving again the diversity and clean handling of quality material in the hands of gifted artists , unafraid to bridge styles and genres and craft something original, buoyant and refreshing.

Perfectly balanced, this album just maybe the revelation of 2016, a thrilling and poetic masterpiece that should conquer the prog charts as well as all the lonely hearts who yearn for sonic beauty and lyrical charm. Heather is back on top of the prog world's list of female voices to reckon with !

5 mirage estimates

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It's all well and good to jump up and down with excitement at the prospects of the likes of Jon Anderson and Roine Stolt, i.e progressive music icons of a higher status and popularity, teaming up for a new project, but to a great many listeners of a wider (and lesser known) range of progressive music, other partnerships can hold even just as many thrills. Case in point is the new collaboration Mantra Vega that boasts singer Heather Findlay and multi-instrumentalist David Kerzner, with Dave Kilminster, Chris Johnson, Stu Fletcher and other notable guests from a diverse range of projects such as Sound of Contact, Mostly Autumn, Ayreon/Star One, Odin Dragonfly, Halo Blind and Steven Wilson/Roger Waters' touring groups, and their debut album `The Illusion's Reckoning' is one of the most sumptuous and highly melodic rock albums that fuses reigned-in prog arrangements with exquisite male and female vocal melodies, sublime harmonies and strong-songwriting.

After a striking pristine piano and spoken word introduction, `Island' is a classy mid-tempo soft rocker that delicately calls to mind the pop era of Fleetwood Mac (not a slight in any way!) with both Dave Kerzner and Heather offering a smooth lead vocal and delivering a silken wistful chorus. `Veil Of Ghosts' climbs in tension with a pleading and intensely heavy chorus weaving around seductive piano, sleek synth rises and droning guitar strains with a wilder dangerous finale where Dave Kilminster really lets rip, and `Lake Sunday' is a dreamy acoustic ballad with lovely sighing harmonies and a gentle ambient caress to close on. `Mountain Spring' is a tough folk piece (yes, that CAN be a thing!) laced with lightly bluesy flavours, with wistful recorder and spirited acoustic guitars strumming stridently alongside symphonic Mellotron reaches, perhaps making it the closest the disc comes to Heather's previous band Mostly Autumn.

`In A Dream' is an elegant ballad with sweeping orchestral-like synths and a powerfully embracing and uplifting finale, `Learning To Be Light' an infectious and sophisticated introspective soft pop-rocker with great bluesy guitar soloing from Chris Johnson, and `I've Seen Your Star' an exotic haunting ballad with the prettiest vocal. After an interlude reprise of the earlier `Island', the album is closed with the almost ten-minute title track, and `The Illusion's Reckoning' is the grandest moment of the disc, a masterclass example of slow-build drama and refinement. Carried by Heather's luxurious voice, it's also full of soaring group backing harmonies, whirling synth soloing and an epic guitar solo from guest Arjen Lucassen in the climax that truly takes flight that will leave captivated listeners craving more.

`The Illusion's Reckoning' may not be some full-blown progressive-rock tour de force, but instead it places just as much emphasis on pin-point sharp song-writing and glorious vocal performances as it does lavish instrumentation. It makes for a sublime background listen or simply an undemanding yet richly performed and intelligent rock work, and is especially a winning showcase for Ms Findlay. If there was any justice in the current music world, the group would be rewarded with a proper crossover success here, such is the appeal `The Illusion's Reckoning' could potentially hold to even non-progressive rock audiences, for those that simply prize intelligent rock song-craft but have little or no interest in `proggy' showboating and drawn out soloing (as much as that's what a lot of us are here for!). Hopefully Heather, Dave and the rest of the musicians won't simply look on Mantra Vega as a fill-in stop-gap group between the `day jobs' of their own projects, because this debut is completely inspired and the band absolutely deserves to be made a priority again in the near future.

Karnataka, Magenta, Mostly Autumn, Touchstone - take note! Mantra Vega have instantly raised the bar for top-quality female fronted prog-related acts, and `The Illusion's Reckoning' is an essential purchase for melodic prog/rock fans!

Four and a half stars.

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