Lorraine Young : Lead vocals and guitars
Steven Francis : Guitars, keyboards and drums
Emmanuel de Saint Méen : Bass and eyboards
This is the sophomore release by French trio Delusion Squared, and is simply titled “II”. I readily admit that I am a fan of their music since I first heard their debut album two years ago, a sci-fi themed concept album that had some very strong melodies.
With this new release we can definitely say that the band have found their sound, a mix of hard driving guitar and bass mixed with deftly played acoustic guitar and atmospheric keyboards. As with the first CD, “II” tells a story in nine tracks grouped into four movements: Providence, Primordial Sin, Oblivion, and Atonement. The story, in a nutshell, is one of a religious battle where an ancient goddess, the Holy Mother, comes back to exact revenge against those who used her as a symbol to gain control over others. In a sense it seems to continue the story line from the first CD.
Although the story itself is interesting, it is the music that brings the story to a whole new level. Delusion Squared have mastered the art of music layering, a production style that is sleek and full while being minimalist. Each instrument can be heard clearly, none overwhelming the other, each complimenting the ethereal voice of Lorraine Young. It must be said that the French have long had a love affair with that kind of whispery voice that so exudes from this album. Think Vanessa Paradis, only better. Lorraine also plays the acoustic guitars which play a much bigger role in this album than on the previous one.
Steven Francis plays his guitars with admirable restraint, sometimes moving in and out of a song, giving it space, never showing off. And when he does use his guitar with forcefulness in a song, as in Veridical Paradox, he shines. Steven is also credited as playing the drums, and they are tight. A colleague thought they sounded artificial, though I do not hear it. One way or the other, the drums are magnificent. Emmanuel de Saint Méen’s bass playing is also excellent and tight, giving the songs a rock solid anchor on which the other instruments simply attach themselves to produce slick songs. Emmanuel also takes control of the keyboards and uses them as ambient additions, augmenting the musical content here with a touch of piano, there with some otherworldly sound, and elsewhere, as in Recipe for Disaster, with a great little solo.
But what of the songs themselves you may ask. Well, they are all catchy. Yes they are prog in their structure, but they are also catchy in the best sense of the word. Some melodies still linger in my head, weeks after having listened to them (Veridical Paradox, Abduction & Double Vision), still other surprise me every time I listen. Steven, Emmanuel, and Lorraine are great songsmiths that have produced a worthy follow up to their excellent debut album.
Now, if only this trio augmented the band and started touring, I am sure they would get the acclaim they richly deserve.
Songs 1. Where Are They Now?
2. Paroxetine - 20mg 3. Perdu Dans Paris 4. The Company Car 5. Everyman's Forgotten Monday
6. Ethanol Hat Nail (Canterbury Sequence Vol. 2)
Andy Tillison : Vocals, keyboards, and electric guitar
Jonathan Barrett : Bass
Paul Burgess : Drums
Theo Travis : Sax and flute
Guy Manning : Acoustic guitar and vocals