REAL ILLUSIONS: REFLECTIONS REVIEW THREAD

This is the forum for all Steve Vai-related discussion including Steve's albums, videos, performances and frequently asked questions.
freedom's door
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I too, would like to say that i am disappointed with the new album, although i am not surprised. To avoid being labeled a "music critic", i will speak of the album as a whole, instead of nitpicking individual songs.

1-i don't like the vocal songs Steve writes, and the ones on this album are no exception. I may be the only one who feels this way, but a lot of Steve's vocal music sounds very influenced by Queen, and i personally just don't dig it.
2-i don't go for the whole "majestic" vibe that Steve seems to try and inject into every song, even the instrumentals
3-A lot of the sounds on this album (guitar and otherwise) sound way too over-processed to my ears. Some of the solo guitar sounds are amazing though.
4-a lot of the material sounds similar to things we've heard from him before. The one piece could almost be a re-working of "Die To Live". Lots of other parts sound like they could've been lifted from previous songs. Whether this is intentional on the part of Steve i don't know, but when i put on a Steve Vai album, i have high expectations for hearing something new and creative, and this album was a let down for me.

For the record, i have been a fan of Steve's since 1984, and am looking forward to the live shows this year, but i'm not one of those people who feels like i have to love everything the guy does, and while i will give this album some time to see if it grows on me, i have a feeling it will eventually end up in the recycle pile.
peace
Jai0705
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Well I love this album to death. I just truly enjoy hearing fresh new music and Steve I think always delivers on that point. I expect his material to be very experimental, his shit is crazy, always. I'm the type of person that appreciates an album as a work of art, as a whole, I'm not looking for the singles when I listen to something. So as a work of art, this album is fantastic. Can't wait for the other parts to this story.
BLS Inc.
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YUCK! Im very dissapointed with the album. I only really listen to tracks 5, 7 and 8. The rest are all very blah. Its like he didnt put any effort into the tracks this time. Im a huge fan of vai, but i think this is definately his weakest album to date. Most songs sound like he spent a day working on them. Kinda like a jam or something.

oh well, looking forward to the show in april and his next album, whenever that will be....
UtopianMisfit
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An interesting album. The second song, Dying for your Love, is not "typical" for our dear Mr. Vai. I love the new music, I just got "Building the Church" on my Verizon LG as my ringtone so I get a little flood of notes whenever I get a call. Good show!
Evil Betty
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BLS Inc. wrote:Its like he didnt put any effort into the tracks this time. Im a huge fan of vai, but i think this is definately his weakest album to date. Most songs sound like he spent a day working on them. Kinda like a jam or something.
Huh? Are you even listening to the same album as us? :roll:
BLS Inc.
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Totally listening to the same album as you guys...lol.

I dunno, sorry , to me it just sounded like he was running out of ideas...i really hope this isnt the case...lol

dont mean to sound like a dick, I will continue to listen to it though. I hope its one of those albums that grows on you and you cant put it down.

we shall see
V41
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I think I'm being wise in not reviewing it yet.

Remember, the fact that my first listen left me weeping doesn't necessarily define my view of it. :oops:

I'm letting it soak in for a day or so more, and then I'll review it.

But I don't understand how some of you don't like it... oh well.
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lydian7
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What I feared this album would be was a reject album of bits and bobs lifted from Steve's epic stage show soundtrack he has been working on for the past few years, and that the album wouldn't be as strong as Vai's previous offerings. Steve mentioned that a bunch of songs from the soundtrack were instrumental guitar and vocal tracks (which ended up being Real illusions: reflections) that didn't really fit into the concept of the rest of the album (which were mainly orchestral compositions, and possibly the second installment of Real Illusions?).

The songs on this album didn't really enthrall me, and I found myself yearning more complex and dense material. When I first listened to Ultra Zone and Fire Garden I was completely blown away, my emotions were thrown in the air like an intense vulcanic eruption. Maybe I chose the wrong time to listen to this album, or maybe it is a result of my higher understanding of musical composition (compared to when I first heard the last Vai album, Ultra Zone), but I found it quite hard to be stimulated by the material. Everything I heard was predictable, every verse, every chorus, every solo section, it was all too conventional as if Steve were painting by numbers with his composition structures. Maybe I am being a little too harsh though, there were moments of splendour such as the joyous harmonic complexity of 'Under it all' and the adrenaline fueled imagination carnival that is 'Freak show excess', but tracks such as 'Glorious', 'Midway Creatures' & 'Firewall' were extremely disappointing to me.

This album isn't a patch on Fire Garden, Ultra Zone & Passion and Warfare (which will always stand as Vai's definative masterpieces), and lacks the technical, compositional and emotional depths of these landmark instrumental albums.
V41
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lydian7 wrote:This album isn't a patch on Fire Garden, Ultra Zone & Passion and Warfare (which will always stand as Vai's definative masterpieces), and lacks the technical, compositional and emotional depths of these landmark instrumental albums.
You're wrong! :D
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lydian7
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V41 wrote:
lydian7 wrote:This album isn't a patch on Fire Garden, Ultra Zone & Passion and Warfare (which will always stand as Vai's definative masterpieces), and lacks the technical, compositional and emotional depths of these landmark instrumental albums.
You're wrong! :D
Maybe my ears are becoming too old and jaded to fully appreciate this album (mind you, I'm only 25 lol). Don't let my cynical ramblings put you off, Vai will always be incredible. :)
Evil Betty
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lydian7 wrote:Maybe my ears are becoming too old and jaded to fully appreciate this album (mind you, I'm only 25 lol).
Or maybe your ears aren't mature enough.

E.B.
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Jeroen
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Owkeee..

First impressions:

1. Building the church:
What an opener! It certainly sets the tone and pace for the album.
I like the melody, I dig the solo, and I adore the outro!

2. Dying for your love:

I'm very impressed with Steve's singing here. It's pretty dificult to pull it off like this. It's certainly diffrent, but very good. Some parts have a queen-esqe feeling, there is a chord progression that reminded me of Innuendo for some reason (incidently my fav queen album & track). The lyrics are deep. I cannot even begin to grasp why some critics are bashing his vocal works or lyrics.

3. Glorius:

I so dig this one. Especially the meow sound. I love it how when the melody of this comes back for the second time, where it somethimes sound like the cat is running out of breath a bit and with some extra vibrato.
The solo is awesome.

4. K’m-Pee-Du-Wee

A nice pace change. Just a cool tune :)

5. Firewall

This one is in the realm of such like "Little Aligator". Strong vocals. Funky guitar & bass works. The scatting stuff is hilarious!

6. Freak Show Excess

Nothing exessive to me about it :) Because of the GW Video it's especially cool. Although he calls it a 7 minute fiasco, there's a strong and well worked out composition behind it and it's insanely complex yet easy to follow. There is some basswork in here that blows my mind.

7. Lotus feet

This one is very special, because 'I was there' (in Groningen & Amsterdam that is). So it brings a lot of memories back. It's bordering perfection.

8 Yai Yai

Some people feel it's out of place, but I think that after the first 7 pieces of fireworks it's a nice moment to have a tune that doesn't require the listner to go so deep and relax a bit before the grand finales :)

9. Midway Creatures

Hmm... :) That solo :) I like this one a lot, it's very eerie sounding, a big fat wall of sound.

10. I'm your secrets

Nice! Thick vocal harmonies. Really baffles me why some people don't like his singing. Oh well.

11 Under it all

The motherload. I guess this is the musical concept at its finest, because it does sound like a musical finale with a truckload of Vai twists.
It's so amazingly intense. Quite possibly my fav Vai track ever. Together with "Dying' the deepest tracks. The spoken parts are really intense.


This disc takes another while to fully digest, but right now I rate it above any other Vai cd I have..and I have 'm all :)

Can't wait to see some of this stuff played live!
V41
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Jeroen wrote:Owkeee..

First impressions:

1. Building the church:
What an opener! It certainly sets the tone and pace for the album.
I like the melody, I dig the solo, and I adore the outro!

2. Dying for your love:

I'm very impressed with Steve's singing here. It's pretty dificult to pull it off like this. It's certainly diffrent, but very good. Some parts have a queen-esqe feeling, there is a chord progression that reminded me of Innuendo for some reason (incidently my fav queen album & track). The lyrics are deep. I cannot even begin to grasp why some critics are bashing his vocal works or lyrics.

3. Glorius:

I so dig this one. Especially the meow sound. I love it how when the melody of this comes back for the second time, where it somethimes sound like the cat is running out of breath a bit and with some extra vibrato.
The solo is awesome.

4. K’m-Pee-Du-Wee

A nice pace change. Just a cool tune :)

5. Firewall

This one is in the realm of such like "Little Aligator". Strong vocals. Funky guitar & bass works. The scatting stuff is hilarious!

6. Freak Show Excess

Nothing exessive to me about it :) Because of the GW Video it's especially cool. Although he calls it a 7 minute fiasco, there's a strong and well worked out composition behind it and it's insanely complex yet easy to follow. There is some basswork in here that blows my mind.

7. Lotus feet

This one is very special, because 'I was there' (in Groningen & Amsterdam that is). So it brings a lot of memories back. It's bordering perfection.

8 Yai Yai

Some people feel it's out of place, but I think that after the first 7 pieces of fireworks it's a nice moment to have a tune that doesn't require the listner to go so deep and relax a bit before the grand finales :)

9. Midway Creatures

Hmm... :) That solo :) I like this one a lot, it's very eerie sounding, a big fat wall of sound.

10. I'm your secrets

Nice! Thick vocal harmonies. Really baffles me why some people don't like his singing. Oh well.

11 Under it all

The motherload. I guess this is the musical concept at its finest, because it does sound like a musical finale with a truckload of Vai twists.
It's so amazingly intense. Quite possibly my fav Vai track ever. Together with "Dying' the deepest tracks. The spoken parts are really intense.


This disc takes another while to fully digest, but right now I rate it above any other Vai cd I have..and I have 'm all :)

Can't wait to see some of this stuff played live!
Nice review, Jeroen! :)

I'm still letting it settle in.
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lydian7
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Jeroen wrote:2. Dying for your love:

I'm very impressed with Steve's singing here. It's pretty dificult to pull it off like this. It's certainly diffrent, but very good. Some parts have a queen-esqe feeling, there is a chord progression that reminded me of Innuendo for some reason (incidently my fav queen album & track). The lyrics are deep. I cannot even begin to grasp why some critics are bashing his vocal works or lyrics.
One thing I will say about his vocal work is that I too can't understand why people are criticising it so much. I suspect it's because there is a stigma attached to instrumental guitarists who try to sing, and sadly people just want him to shut up and play his guitar. His voice is almost perfectly in tune, he doesn't really drop a note like most male vocalists, and he even injects some emotion into his singing. His voice doesn't seem totally focused on technicality and devoid of any human emotion like some people have suggested.

Another point about his vocals (which nobody has seemed to pickup on) is that I hear a lot of Mike Keneally in his vocal style. The way he squeezes a large number of words into a single phrase is definately more remeniscent of Keneally than it is of Queen, and I feel he has been influenced by Keneally's work somewhat over the years.
V41
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I love Steve's vocals. I don't understand what people criticize in them. He seems like he has a good range, maybe low tenor to high alto type range, which is good, considering most people sing in one or one and a half 'ranges'.
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