Delusive Relics – Chaotic Notions – Album Review
When you see names like Nine Inch Nails, Tangerine Dreams, and Depeche Mode pop up in the list of influences on an artist or band, it’s safe to say you’re about to be in for some highly synthesized sounds and a mix of flashy, catchy, and rhythmic music to experience. Delivering on that potential in review today, we’ve got Delusive Relics, based out of New Hampshire with their debut record Chaotic Notions. Comprised of the talents shared between the duo of Frank Nik and Anis Oveisi – they’ve got their album being officially released TODAY…kudos & congratulations to them…all you musicians out there know and understand the hard work & effort that goes into making a record even IF it’s what you love to do most. They’ve reached a verifiable milestone in their own history & I hear many reasons to continue on to the next chapter – let’s celebrate their debut release and review these eleven new cuts on Chaotic Notions.
You can hear the engine of this album revving up from the way that the synth begins to pick up in presence and intensity as “Command Machine” begins. You immediately notice the clever editing on the vocals, the smart flow of the structure, and the power of the combination of vocals you’ll find throughout the music of Delusive Relics. Sound of the main lead vocals works well, the female vocals coming in to assist make an even bigger impact and help transform the entire song’s appeal into bold crossover terrain. Like…somewhere between vibrant energy of The Crystal Method and tribal sounds of something like Massive Attack, “Command Machine” would fit right in, while still easily drawing in fans of the bands mentioned at the beginning like Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Tangerine Dreams. Lots of room for a sound like this to exist & thrive out there in the music-scene, and the way this song gets the heart-rate pumping & energy flowing fast is bound to entice many people to keep on listening. Those first bursts of bright vocals in contrast with the dark sound in the atmosphere around the first minute & ninety-second mark…those are absolutely spectacular, as is the piano break past the two-minute mark as well. There’s no doubt that for the most part, “Command Machine” is rooted in a darker vibe & atmosphere, but you’ll also be severely impressed with just how well they can break through the darkness to reveal the light as this first song progresses. Clearly out to make an impact, “Command Machine” is a wicked gateway into the music of Delusive Relics and opening to the album.
The bounce of the synth melodies & grooves interacting throughout “Inner Man” take this tune through multiple layers of music that makes for a completely compelling listen. You’ll go from one side of sound to the other on this particular journey – “Inner Man” transforms and evolves in uniquely fresh directions that are designed to satisfy just as much for their sonic textures as they are for the stunning execution. I dig the composition and flow of the music quite a bit when it comes to Delusive Relics…like if you listen to the beginning of “Inner Man,” and you’re familiar with your music-history, a song like this could fit into multiple genres. It’s got progressive tendencies…verses that sound like something Phil Collins would feel “In The Air Tonight,” raspy wisdom-filled vocals that are almost Peter Gabriel-esque at times – you can hear in this one tune alone that Delusive Relics draw from a widespread range of influences when it comes to making their own music. Perhaps nothing highlights that fact better than how they bust into a chorus that completely works wonders in establishing the creativity, imagination, and artistic design in the music of this band that’s all their own…ideas like you’ll find in the chorus of “Inner Man” do a ton in favor of establishing their identity in sound while still being remarkably versatile as well.
As the album shifts into softer terrain, the piano beginning on “Come With Me Now” is absolutely gorgeous and filled with emotion. Vocally, they also shift styles into a much more theatrically inclined performance…which…will probably take a second or two to adjust to on that first listen – but you’ll find plenty of merit in what’s happening on the microphone here and how it adds to this song. I loved how the music expanded with that added electro-touch livening-up the vibe, and I equally loved the breakdown into the piano in the mid-section of this tune. Making a really smart switch in the entire sound, movement, tone, ideas – you name it, they change it up, and they’ve really got a song that plays a lot like a Part 1 & Part 2 experience with both halves being so noticeably defined with their own personality. As far as the artistic-aspect of their music is concerned, I think “Come With Me Now” does a ton to establish just how far they’re willing to take it…you won’t find too many tracks out there that sound like this one out there right now – that uniqueness will be polarizing, but also beneficial to the band long-term. “Come With Me Now” is the kind of song that people will talk about…because some will be willing to go right down the rabbit hole with Delusive Relics into their ideas while others will hesitate…but the end result in creating a song like this, especially with its two personalities/parts in the writing, is that the people out there WILL feel one way or the other about it. They’ll have discussions on whether or not the first part or second part was their favorite, if they liked the high-drama added to the vocals of the beginning or the soulful smoothness in the melody of the second-half…the bottom line is, no one out there will feel indifferent towards a cut like this, there will be all kinds of opinions on this one, but no one will be silent. That’s always a good thing when it comes to music.
In terms of accessibility – “Fake World” has definitely got my vote as one of the cuts on Chaotic Notions that the people out there are going to notice immediately, and for plenty of good reason. If I was in Delusive Relics right now, I’d be taking a good look at this catchy synth-overload as a potential single to draw people in…I don’t think many people out there are strong enough to resist this groove, nor should they want to. They’ve got the electro circuits fired up and inspired on this tune with plenty of uniqueness to be enjoyed along the way, like the exceptionally beautiful breakdown just past the 2:30 mark and how the music works there, leading into the atmospherically-inclined vocals in the mix. Plenty of pep in this song’s step – Delusive Relics move confidently through this tune, bringing bright sounds to the surface and bold lead-vocals to go along with it…I have no doubt whatsoever that listener will respond enthusiastically to the addictive energy & colorful vibes that “Fake World” relentlessly pumps out. I mean, C’MON people – what else could you want? Delusive Relics have a MASSIVE synth groove working tremendously for them on this song that absolutely will not be denied, strong spirit in the lyricism, BIG hooks & moments for the vocals to captivate us…”Fake World” has got it all goin’ on and then some! As far as hooks go…there’s definitely an argument to be made that the ones you’ll find in the chorus here on “Fake World” are the strongest you’ll find in any song on the record…the writing of this song is a giant highlight and the execution is right on the money. You couldn’t ask a thing more from the vocals on this song, the music is fully LOADED with bright hooks you can’t miss as well, pulsing from the lefts to the rights with wild sound, bringing the maximum in audio-entertainment straight at ya at all times. Highlight vocals, highlight hooks from the music to the microphone – seriously solid tune.
LISTEN to the mix on “Paint Your Feelings” will ya? This…THIS…is a brilliant example of what they’re capable of, not just for the highly unique idea inside of such a short timeframe, but for the true mix of cutting edge low-end sound meeting such impressive melody laced upon the surface and creativity in their compositions. Lyrically poetic…I love the contrast that exists in this tune, because like…well…listen to the words…they’re all positive, yet there’s this looming shadow & presence cast over them through the tone of the music…”Paint Your Feelings” might be shorter than the rest, but they make the most of this cut and the time they have with it. Creating a uniquely haunting, emotional, and melodic vibe that is as graceful & light as it is dark & threatening somehow…I love how they mix attitudes & moods in their music and this song is definitely a perfect example of just how effective they are when they do.
I think “A Woman’s Diary” will draw a few justifiable Massive Attack comparisons once again, which is always a great thing in my opinion personally…you can hear that Protection-era combination of adventurous electro-influenced sound and soulful vocals working real magic through your speakers at the halfway-mark on Chaotic Notions. Delusive Relics had this song out there during their pre-order campaign for their debut album, and they made a really great choice in choosing this tune to draw people in – I think the hooks are solid, the performances are spot-on, the ideas are insightful, the lyrics empowering & highly relevant for today – and the finale of this cut really takes this song’s potential to its full maximum. Specifically, being called “A Woman’s Diary” and having lyrics born completely from the perspective of the gender…this tune becomes powerful enough to be a part of the women’s movement and shifting politics of our world today…it’s songs like this that document our history through the art that’s created. “A Woman’s Diary” will be a relevant song and subtle battle-cry for years & years to come, until change has fully come to the point where things are verifiably equal and women have every opportunity to do everything they want without all the mansplaining that comes with it now. Inventive & innovative music, inspiring words, soulfully sung…you’re not going to find me complaining about “A Woman’s Diary” – I think it’s another extremely strong song on this debut album.
There are moments in “Lost” that I sincerely thought worked incredibly well…like that first major transition in the vibe around the 2:15 mark. I really dig the vibrant bounce of the electro & synth sounds running rampant with their energy throughout the verse & chorus as well…sometimes I felt like the vocals worked, sometimes I didn’t feel as strongly attached to them in this particular tune compared to the rest of the record. Dude’s got that like…similar approach, tone, & sound you’ll find in some of the tunes from The Editors…and while I fully admit to being a massive fan of that band too, there are some songs that come out a bit more suited for that style of singing than others. After repeated listens throughout this record, I came to the conclusion that the tone of voice is more than fine with me…I’m alright with the heightened drama in the singing too…I think my apprehension in giving this song a full green light was that maybe it seemed a bit more easy for them, or more obvious/logical somehow in comparison to the creativity they’ve flexed in their vocals & music along the way. “Lost” still fits cohesively enough onto the record…and in many respects, it’s got multiple parts that are certainly catchy…the instrumental break around the 3:30 mark is one of the most memorable highlights on the album…there are definitely redeeming moments that make it worthwhile to listen to. But yeah…not quite sure I can fully put my finger on it other than to say that Delusive Relics have really put uniqueness and creativity at the forefront of their music throughout this album and “Lost” seemed a bit more closer to ‘normal’ somehow than the more complex & artistic designs that the surrounding songs tend to have.
“Push Them Away” has another immediately enticing sound to the ears…deadly & menacing, mysterious and full of what sounds like chilled-out mayhem in the works, heightened by the whispered rasp of the vocals and eventual shift into an even more aggressive Industrial style along the way. Smart use of the synth strings…another really clever addition to the sound surrounding the vocals…but really, they can’t lose here no matter which part you listen to or examine. They’re almost into the eerie & haunting moodiness of the first couple records by Stabbing Westward with “Push Them Away” – and the jazzy electro-vibes that Delusive Relics add to the extraordinary ending of this tune…perfection…once again, they’ve found an insightful way to take their music to the next-level. They’ve got a lot going on in favor of their music…I think they’ve got powerfully capable vocalists capable of getting right into the moment & concept of each of their songs, but instrumentally & musically, they’re easily equally entertaining too. Written from the perspective of someone that’s truly had enough with this world & the way things are right now, just seeking a way to quiet the voices in their head – I think a lot of people out there will relate to this tune lyrically while digging on the wildly stylistic & catchy bass-grooves and electro sounds. “Push Them Away” is another undeniably hook-laden track from the music to the microphone that features a plethora of crossover potential…a very impressive tune to find on a debut record. Excellent choice for a single as well – they crush the dark rhythmic vibes on “Push Them Away” and have a wickedly psychedelic visual experience to support it, hot off the press and released today as well – check out the official video below!
But so has the case been for many of these tracks. Highly impressed with what I’ve heard on this first album from Delusive Relics…lots of great ideas throughout Chaotic Notions and excellent execution. And talk about eerie when they wanna be! The haunting melody of “Illusion (Part 1)” will cling to your freakin’ bones and have you turning on the lights throughout your house. It’s the shortest tune on the entire record and I tell ya dear readers, dear friends – I could have happily sat through this one song on repeat all week long, the execution here on this idea is as top-shelf as it gets. While I get that “Illusion (Part 1)” is meant to serve as an intro or opening into the bulk of the main ideas to come in “Delusion (Part 2)” and “Hallucination (Part 3)” – I mean, c’mon, this is 100% captivating in its own right. The whisper of the wind blowing through the music, the eerie glow of the low-end synth, the mischief in the melody on top…it’s all perfection…”Illusion (Part 1)” makes for a seriously spine-tingling experience.
Merging perfectly in the transition from “Illusion (Part 1)” into “Delusion (Part 2),” they pick up the pace quickly and shift gears rapidly as this trilogy of songs at the end of their debut record continues. Likely the most comparable to a Nine Inch Nails track when it comes to the songs from this set, you can hear that audible mix of melody-meets-frustration in the vocals and similar desolate themes, desperate feelings, and bold emotions on display. The synth parts alone are freakin’ magnificent…when you really focus in and listen to the composition here, again, notice the amount of precision & professionalism at work here – Delusive Relics prove they’re more than ready to compete with the peers in their genre. That menacing low-end synth sound comes through brilliantly in the mix here, adding a relentless surge & pulse through this song that the rest is built around. “Delusion (Part 2)” doesn’t quite have an anti-chorus exactly, but it’s tough to say whether or not it builds upon the strengths you’ll find in the verse; they may have out-written themselves between the two parts, or it could very well be that it’s intended to flow like the natural extension or logical transition between them that it ends up sounding like. For me personally, it was the piano-led breakdowns within “Delusion (Part 2)” that held both my favorite moments of the song musically, and vocally as well. Love the final moments of this tune and the nod it gives to the original melody of “Illusion (Part 1)” that originally sends us on the journey of this trilogy.
They finish their debut record on one of its boldest songs, mixing bright melody once more with fully engorged low-end synth sounds that powerfully catch your attention and keep you locked right in. The spoken-word beginning of “Hallucination (Part 3)” was a brilliant choice…the atmosphere and haunting tone of the music once again makes an eerie presence…the vocals glide right in like a ghost…and at times, they almost come out closer to something like Pink Floyd here than you might think they’d ever sound like when first starting this album. Words cannot express just how much they’re nailing the ending of this album…the spectacular combination of vocals in the mix between the lead & background are purely as good as it gets, the music is stuffed full of incredible sound, character, and personality – I mean…we’re talking seriously strong & imaginative material that’s bound to hold up over time y’all. With ice-like & crystalline sounds contrasting boldly with wild low-end pulses, every second that ticks by through the beginning of “Hallucination (Part 3)” seems to build on the suspense and anticipation for what might come next. Flawlessly transitioning into the verse & vocals with genuinely sleek & mysterious sound, “Hallucination (Part 3)” is every bit the trip the title implies it would be. It’s a deadly tune all-around…another truly spine-tingling idea and killer example of their stunning creativity, clever innovation, and excellent abilities of transforming music into art. A track like this reveals the ambitious nature of the band, their focus on creating sounds & songs we’ve never experienced, and the potential for where they can go with their music in the future – they should be very proud of this unique debut.
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