Ethereal Delusions / Reformation
Ethereal Delusions has just released Reformation, the follow up to last year's Echosynthetic Album of the Year, 2017's Ascension. That album was an ambitious breakaway from the crowd, pushing the boundaries of what you expect to find in a popular synth based release. As Ethereal Delusions has moved more and more into a multimedia act...with music steeped in progressive roots, a strong visual accompaniment, and a fully fleshed out live experience...Reformation is very much so an extension of that. It's also very, very good.
I'm going to go ahead and give you a bit of a door check before we continue further. If you're looking for your next synthwave fix or a nostalgic joyride that you're accustomed to, you're not going to get that here. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! There are artists that create that kind of music and do so very well. As Ethereal Delusions has continued to hone his art...and let's be completely clear here...this is most certainly art...he has really grown and shaped a very unique space for himself. Blending jazz, atmospheric operatic scores, and Thomas Dolby-esque bleeps and bloops are nothing abnormal for Jon Thomson, who as far as I can see it, uses each track the way a painter would use a canvas.
Let's go back to a word that I just used inte last paragraph...atmospheric. I'm going to put on my nerd hat here, but for me, listening to this album is very much like experiencing the game Myst for the first time. In that iconic adventure game, a man has the ability to create fully realized worlds within the pages of books he writes. You get to dive into and be a part of these worlds as you progress through the story. Reformation feels like a book that I've pulled down from that shelf, but instead of using words to create the world we're experiencing, Jon has used music. The normal rules don't apply here because this is a world of his creation, created using his rules, and created for us to enjoy and experience in our own unique ways. How amazingly cool is that?
If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm completely enthralled by what Ethereal Delusions has done here. I thought Ascension was a high watermark for progressive synth music, but Reformation is something else...something wholly unique and ambitious beyond words. For me, as a music writer, it is such a pleasure to be able to share an album that I'm so personally moved by. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.