Back in 2015, I was embarking on one life’s musical journeys and I didn’t even know it. I had stumbled on a band called Vivid Illusion in the same place that I often stumble on music: in my inbox. The band’s Circumnavigation | A immediately hooked me with its post-metal goodness and I decided to write it up. But what I didn’t know is that key members of Vivid Illusion (namely Aki McCullough and Mike Gardell), were also in A Constant Knowledge of Death. If that name rings a bell, it’s because I’ve covered the band and their prolific experimentations with grindcore, post-metal, progressive metal, ambient, and, somehow, even more genres on the blog in the past, several times. But I’ve always had a hankering for some more of the scintillating beauty that first drew me towards Vivid Illusion and guess what; my hopes have been answered. Boy, have they been answered.
On October 29th, Vivid Illusion will be released a self-titled album and I am very, very proud to be premiering the first single from it, which you can find right below. Simply put, this is Vivid Illusion’s best material yet. On “The Sentinel”, the aforementioned single, Vivid Illusion (now a duo made up of McCullough and Ant Taboada, with contributions from Aaron Stechauner on the excellent drums, James Goldmann and Jackson Firlik) bring to the forefront the same scintillating elements that I referenced above. Following a delayed, undulating, post-rock intro, the track dives right into the main riff, led by drums just this side of post-black, faintly distant blast-beats. It’s immediately clear that Vivid Illusion’s shoegaze influences, right down to the sparkling guitar leads over screamed, raw vocals further down the track and the punchy, and the evocative tone on the drums, have been given pride of place on this track. And that works really damn well, blending with Vivid Illusion’s already emotional and communicative style for a great result.
Now that we’ve spoken about the music, I want to talk about the video that accompanies the track. Simply put, this is one of my favorite music videos I’ve ever watched, especially when coupled with the track itself. On the surface, it is nothing special: a series of photographs, some from personal cameras and some from phones, all taken by non-professionals, which play in sequence. But if you listen to the lyrics and pay close attention to the images as they unfold, the story of “The Sentinel” becomes clear. It is a story of both the friendship between McCullough and Taboada, which has led them to today, and the story of their own personal flourishing as separate people, making themselves into who they are. It’s a beautiful telling of how a strong relationship, and a strong life, is made up of people who come, through the relationship itself, to better create and understand themselves, together. It moved me to my core.
And there you have it! A masterclass in song writing and in music videos. A true testament to musical growth and to friendship. A return of one of the first bands I discovered for the blog. A massively joyous occasion. What more could you ask for?
Don’t forget; Vivid Illusion releases on October 29th. You can, and should, head over to the band’s Bandcamp page to pre-order it.