Reflected Illusions - 'Radio Waves'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Reflected Illusions, the moniker of a musician named Rez hailing from Toronto. For nearly nine years now he’s been working on different iterations of the project which is designed to expand the usage of electronic music through compellingly new and experimental techniques. His latest release is ‘Radio Waves,’ an endeavor partly scored with Morse code and voices from NASA.

As you may suspect, ‘Radio Waves’ is centered around a sonic palette of cosmic musings and ideas. The galactic tracks are caked with a generous use of reverb and call upon a wide array of synthesizers to craft their experiences. This is, for the most part, enjoyable and effective. It’s very easy with synthesizers to accidentally fall off the deep end. Reflection Illusions’ synthesizers are sublime and surreal, thus manifesting themselves into a pleasant musical environment that isn’t weighed down in cliche.

‘Radio Waves,’ the title track and opening of the record, establishes the sound the listener will be immersing themselves in throughout the half dozen tracks. I love the layering of sounds; the technological quips are so elegantly contrasted by the synthesizer lead and sparse, but tactful beats. ‘Moons of Jupiter’ is very similar in this regard, but I’d argue the track falters in some spots due to its length. The track doesn’t offer enough meat on its bone to constitute a five and a half minute excursion. It’s most certainly a lovely track, though.

‘Ready for Launch’ is an entirely surreal experience, one that is perfectly accented by the NASA samples on the latter half of its run. I love Reflected Illusions’ use of these audio files. NASA periodically releases collections of audio, a good deal of which was actually released quite recently. Since it’s a government agency, the content isn’t protected in any way. (Similar to using old recordings of the Marine Band, for example.) The recordings obviously aren’t musical in nature. Seeing an artist like Reflected Illusions use them is wonderful.

The opposite half of the record offers a bit more intensity and pep in its step. ‘Solar System and Beyond,’ for example, offers a much wider variety of samples, synthesizers, and intensified soundscapes. Because of this, the track bodes better than ‘Moons of Jupiter’ did, and it’s even longer. The NASA-laden ‘Greetings to the Universe’ is the same; it’s a five minute track that offers the most unique listening experience.

‘Zero Gravity’ offers the harshest synthesizers and beats on the album. The track pulls it off, though, and it’s a perfect finale that contrasts itself especially well against where you began with the titular tune. ‘Radio Waves’ is a journey, one very much worth taking due to its successful experimental nature and fascinating tracks.