Reflections is the second release from Lansing, Michigan-based songwriter David Turel, and his first full length album for Lolipop Records. From the first moments of the album’s opening track “My Giza,” you know you are in for something special – an atmospheric listening experience that will transport you to another place entirely. The organs fade in and begin to slide around in pitch, a vocal soaked in reverb echoing similar pitch slides, before an insistent, pulsing rhythm comes in to drive the song forward. The drums and bass are locked in together perfectly, and everything else floats around them in a purposefully loose sort of way. It’s a brief but attention-grabbing introduction to the album, invoking Stereolab and Tame Impala at once.
Once the mood is set, it remains fairly consistent throughout the album, even as the arrangement style begins to change. On “Dream of You,” a jangly Beatlesque intro gives way to the kind of dreamy neo-psych we have seen a resurgence of in recent years. The vocals sit in the music as another instrument and the overall vibe is pleasantly melancholy, until halfway through the song we are plunged into a slowed down, bluesy guitar-and-mellotron jam that brings to mind early Pink Floyd. In lesser hands, this kind of material could test the patience of a listener, but the musicianship here is of a caliber that keeps it exciting throughout the entire song, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. This is a theme throughout the album. The songs here are all allowed to breathe and take their time, but they are tastefully arranged and never become tiresome.
The listening experience of this entire album is very smooth, with nothing so out of place that it pulls you out of the trance-like state it places the listener in. With that said, there are some surprises, like the synthesizers and flanged-out electronic noises that enter towards the end of “My Love (In The Clouds)” which bring to mind the more dreamy elements of the Flaming Lips. This wall of noise seems to come out of nowhere in the song, but in a good way. It envelopes the song until it gives way to the bossa nova rhythms of “Hollow Days” – little more than an interlude, but a necessary bridge to the following track. This is the way albums used to be put together in the vinyl era, with more thought put into how the songs flow together than any one hit single, and it’s nice to hear new artists keeping this tradition alive in a new way.
“When She’s All Alone” lives up to the neo-psych label, channeling influences of the past with a decidedly modern production feel. Drums and bass pulse with an insistent rhythm while electronic sounds float around them, as if the rhythm section is the only thing anchoring the song to planet Earth. It’s perfect music for driving alone, late at night, along winding roads in the middle of nowhere.
The title track “Reflections” is, appropriately, the most pop-oriented song on the album, although in the context of this album it’s more like dream-pop than anything you might typically hear on mainstream radio. It manages to stay within the sonic world of the rest of the album while giving the listener an accessible and beautiful melody that is perhaps more upfront than on some of the other songs.
This dreamy and melancholy mood stays in place for the rest of the album, until the end of “Strings Break” which layers some guitar noise in with the atmospheric soundscapes before that wall of noise simply fades out. Even here, the vibe is mellow. This isn’t the frenetic, noisy side of psych music, quite the contrary. The vibe here is pleasant and enjoyable throughout, while giving us a healthy dose of experimentalism, and this makes it a rather accessible collection of songs. Definitely recommended for fans of the genre.
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