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The Intersphere - 'The Grand Delusion' Album Review


1. Think Twice

2. Mind Over Matter

3. Man On The Moon

4. Overflow

5. Secret Place

6. Antitype

8. The Grand Delusion

9. New Maxim

10. Linger

12. Shipwreck

"The Grand Delusion" is the fifth album by German band The Intersphere (looking at their Bandcamp presence), and is billed in it's press release as having an underlying theme linked to a book by Paul Watzlawick, which I've never read, not to worry the album is thoroughly listenable without having ever seen that tome. The music is nicely varied with the band using a range of textures and styles to good effect throughout.

I find myself compelled to investigate this music in some depth here but that would take the joy of discovery from the first listens to it so I'll focus my in-depth views on the singles that came out ahead of the album already.

Starting with "Mind Over Matter" an uptempo zippy little number with some heavy refrains and a huge sounding chorus, also, that fuzz bass going into the middle 8 is (to the bassist in me) amazing sounding (to be fair I want the bassist's fuzz pedal, it always sounds amazing and I love a good fuzz bass). We reach a big dramatic moment midway through the middle 8 where the keys take over with single chords and then the rest of the band join in one at a time starting with an intricate and wild drum pattern which sounds at odds with the keyboards alone but as the bass and guitars come in it's place becomes crystal clear.

"Secret Place" kicks in with another bit of excellent drumming, it's little wonder the band's drummer Moritz Müller is an in-demand session drummer having worked with Bobby Kimball (of Toto fame) among others. I say this not to disparage the work of guitarist Thomas Zipner or bassist Daniel Weber both of whose playing here is fantastic with Christoph Hessler's vocals polished and equally impressive in range and dexterity. The riff that opens the song also returns to transition between the verse and the chorus, which again lifts to another level of intensity from the verse which is impelled forward by a guitar riff, the middle eight carried by a very military sounding snare drum roll is brief before the chorus thunders back in, the band don't waste any time with overreaching instrumentals, everything is exceptionally well played and exactly long enough.

"Antitype" starts with a more atmospheric feel compelled forward by some crushing bass and drums but defined by the intricate repeating guitar figure and bursting into a powerful chorus, the middle section of this track is another epic exercise in building from a minimal keyboard and vocal at the beginning to a pounding and rising guitar part back to the crescendo of that huge chorus before an aggressive and gradually slowing instrumental outro which descends into feedback before fading out entirely.

The press release (I love it when a band includes one of these) mentions recording every instrument in a close-up and detailed way, avoiding duplication, I'm guessing this means double tracking was something they were keen to avoid here, whatever it means specifically the result is a very clean production throughout. All things considered, this could be an album with very sparse arrangements if there are indeed only 4 instruments and vocals on each track, but this is never evident. The songs sound full and lush, with plenty of details popping out as the songs are re-visited, making the album thoroughly worthwhile upon re-listening, as I tried to get to the bottom of any subtext in the lyrics (something I'm still working on, but that's just for me).

So the music sounds big, the album's lyrics are evidently somewhat rooted in an underlying concept, although not to the detriment of the strength of the individual songs, there's a lot of musical variety, this is quite the package, as an entry into the world of this band's music it has left me keen to hear more, but at the same time, more than happy to simply listen to this excellent album again.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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