From the North East of England and comprising Jonathan Youdale and Martin Collins, this is the debut album from Regent. Illusions consists of five songs based on original demos penned by Youdale upon which Collins advised and oversaw the lyrics. The songs were meticulously rehearsed and fine-tuned over a four month period in self-produced sessions using recording facilities provided by The University of Huddersfield. Analogue equipment was chosen to help add layers to the songs and try to avoid the more artificial side of modern recordings.
Both Collins and Youdale share guitar duties, bringing together session musicians to fill in the remaining roles from drums to vocals. In November 2015 they returned to their home town of Stockton-on-Tees to complete the mixing and add a batch of final overdubs. The press release states that the completed album pays homage to their influences; Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield and The Who’s Tommy (although I can’t hear this reference myself).
The five songs segue seamlessly into one entire piece of work, clocking in at just thirty minutes it never outstays its welcome, and to some extent leaves you wanting more. There are many other influences to be heard here, the final track Horizons starts with birdsong and a psychedelic feel, very much in the style of The Doors, before moving into more Pink Floyd territory with the bass and a Gilmour styled guitar. Towards the middle section we get saxophone followed by acoustic guitar and a beautiful female vocal, then it’s gone and the album is over. There is a clear King Crimson influence to Three Minutes to Midnight, the sudden start of crashing guitars and an almost 21st Century Schizoid Man feel to the song changing midway with the introduction of horns to give almost a jazzy feel, then back to the Crimson style and a dash to the end.
There is an overall Floydian feel here, indeed the end section of Escapism contains some great saxophone and vocals which are in the style of The Great Gig in the Sky, but with their own twist (here it sounds like it is sung by a male voice). This is not a bad thing as Regent simply use the style to create their own musical vision, and there is enough originality here to maintain that. The opening section of the song has a little of The Tangent about it before returning to the Floyd influences. The opening track, Somnambulists, moves from guitars into a driving drum rhythm that takes the song forward before giving way to swirling keyboards, acoustic guitar leading into an almost folksy section. All this and the track is only half way through. Keyboards then lead to a reintroduction of guitars and a Mars Volta style vocal as things settle for the segue into the next song.
This is an interesting release from a couple of talented young musicians, despite the use of many session musicians and the use of overdubs it still feels like a band effort with good sound quality for a download. There is a lot of promise here and I for one would look forward to see where they will go next. The album is available for download, and the band have a planned physical release to follow later this year.
01. Somnambulists (7:24)
02. Escapism (7:39)
03. The Silver Moon (4:51)
04. Three Minutes to Midnight (4:45)
05. Horizons (5:21)
Total time – 32:00
Jonathan Youdale – Guitars
Martin Collins – Guitars
Rihannah Amoah – Lead Vocals
Courtney Askew-Conti – Backing Vocals
Alanna Baguley – Lead & Backing Vocals
Corey Clough-Howard – Bass Guitar
Richard Gartland – Drums & Percussion
Chris Gregory – Keyboards & Vocals
Rob Rideout – Lead & Backing Vocals
George Winsall – Alto & Tenor Saxophone
Christopher Woodger – Backing Vocals
Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date Of Release: 29th January 2016