I give Vai a lot of credit for reinventing himself. After listening to the CD once through I was a little thrown off, in a good way that is. Vai managed to outdo himself again coming up with some very original wild new sounds on the guitar. I haven’t had the chance to dig into the lyrics yet but the playing is superb. Two words describe Vai’s playing on this CD: 1) clever & 2) tasteful. Vai doesn’t really go nuts with the pyrotechnics but rather goes for playing the right notes at the right time. The overall sound and feel is somewhat “raw” in nature. Maybe Vai was going for that feel? Thanks again VAI and congratulations on a job superbly done!!!
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
I am deeply impressed with Steve Vai’s Real Illusions. The album is definitely different than traditional Vai albums like Passion and Warfare, Fire Garden and Alien Love Secrets, but it will take you in for a ride Vai’s never taken you on before. This album has a good blend of Vaiesque metal, soulful vocals, grand orchestration and of course, crazy effects (that Vai loves showing off). You also get to see many sides of Vai here; the child, the adult, the composer and the spirit. I recommend this album to all music fans that need to hear a fresh, never heard before album.
Peace, Love and good happiness stuff.
EDIT: Update as of May 21st. I LOVE THIS ALBUM!!! Steve Vai is truly a Guitar God.
Every release from Steve is a wide sampling of moods and technique. If you’ve enjoyed his previous work, then you can’t miss here either. It’s stunning in the way that Steve Vai is ALWAYS stunning. He doesn’t just hit a note, he brings that note out of his instrument in exactly the manner he chooses. I don’t think that any other guitar player I’ve ever heard has that command over their instrument.
It’s true, he’s still singing here and there, but not that much. I’ve gotta say, if he wants to sing occassionaly, fine… as long as he keeps playing in such an inspiring manner.
I read a few reviews that critiqued the sound quality. I found it to be warm enough. For (mostly) instrumental guitar music you could do alot worse in the sound quality area.
There are a few tracks that don’t grab me much. I’m not too interested in the big rock n roll sounding songs. My favorite works are the songs where you hear the lead on one track, where there’s a feeling of intimacy and you can hear his fingers on the strings. You can sit back and think “my god, he’s really playing that!” Those songs are here too.
If it’s too “weird” for you, well… Most folks who love this music play an instrument and the weird becomes interesting when you look deeper. There’s plenty of mindless fluffy pop in the world, thank god there’s a little weird stuff too!
If you are the type that cant sit back in a dark room, throw on a cd, close your eyes, and experience great music… Then dont buy this album, go buy Nickelback instead. This record adds to steve’s already odd collection of music. His pure genious is subtle throughout the record. If you listen carefully you can hear many subtle nuances in how the record progresses… Listen to it all at once or not at all. Good work Steve. Oh and sometimes it has a shade of John Petrucci, which i assume is tribute (see track 9, Midway Creatures)
If you like Vai’s old style, remember you had to re-check your premises with Fire Garden and learn to like Ultra Zone. “Real Illusions – Reflections” is the natural sequel to Ultra Zone because it’s even more experimented.
Even with the new style, the album “borrows” moods and melodies from different points in Vai’s discography:
- Flex-Able meets Alien Love Secrets and “Boston Rain Melody” in “K’m-Pee-Du-Wee” (track 4)
- “Little Aligator” up tempo in “Firewall” (track 5)
- “Fire Garden Suite” reinvented on “Freak Show Excess” (track 6)
- “The Riddle” revisited with synths in “Midway Creatures” (track 9)
- Sex and Religion melodies in “I’m your Secrets” (track 10)
So here’s the album overview:
- GREAT instrumentals on tracks 1, 4, 6, 9
- the usual Vai (but remember he can play) on tracks 3, 5, 7, 10, 11
- funny Vai on track 8
- no point when track 2 passes by
A worthy mention to Billy Sheehan, who plays very precise and cool bass. Check “Freak Show Excess” all over, mainly the duet between 03:45 and 05:20.
- If you like Vai no matter what he does, BUY the album – it’s great.
- If you didn’t like Ultra Zone, hey, have a full listening session before buying “Real Illusions – Reflections” and decide by yourself.