ALBUM: ‘Delusion of Reference’ – The Ringmaster

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More often than not, it’s hard to fit everything into words alone. Not even a grandiose exhibition of wordplay justifies what we sincerely feel to be enough to express ourselves. But in the very least, we try. Maybe if I was gifted with other forms of expression to fully enunciate what followed after a rather pleasant and thoughtful night listening to this record, I would. It has been more than a year since The Ringmaster, Francis Lorenzo, released outtakes: gorgeous strays that could evolve and live just as well on their own. Like a bottle of vintage wine that needs air to breathe, a tender swirl to settle before one takes a sip, it is finally served. The amount of meticulousness and soul poured into it is exemplary. From the selection of artworks that, according to him, “deserves to be somewhere that can be easily seen” to the evident skillful musicality that heavily palpates throughout every song, throughout the record in its entirety. There was no shred of tawdry, yet shallow attempts to create and deliver this album to what it is now. Fans of his band, Sleepwalk Circus, may not help it to make a preemptive assumption that, in some respects, Delusion of Reference might sound similar to his work in The Great Secret Show. But like in any field or craft, it’s difficult, although not impossible, to completely deviate from the norm or the expected. But I can personally vouch that Delusion of Reference is a blueprint, if I may say, of Francis Lorenzo’s more personal side. I do not personally know him, but the stories in his songs can tell you a great deal about him, or at least, on what he wanted to say. One cannot easily dismiss the potency of his consciousness and perception, his presence all over the record. In some ways, you can feel as if you have been part of his stories, or otherwise, play a character in one or all of it. He cannot choose a better title for this record.

It is paradoxical to be unfazed with how each song was laid out, its continuity, and its wholeness when put together. The tones are subdued at some point, where he can control the mood and pace them, until he finally unleash them in the most liberating approach: an expanse of evocative combination of melodies, a perfect marriage of rhythm and emotion. “The Cunning Crow Will Tell You Everything” is like an ode to the end, a somewhat imposing intro to this record. There’s a fair share of upbeat and climactic numbers and shoegaze element, with additional guitars from Matt Warren (lead vocalist and bassist of rock/electronica band Ephesus), evident and tangible in its form, (“Theimpone”, “Fruit Eaters”, and “An Information Act”) that evens the mood out. And where percussive can mean somber, “Ghost of Sicily” is probably the only track in it that deflects, no grand pluck of strings, but equally earnest and remarkable as the rest. The rest paints a vivid picture of what is often hidden and stowed away. The others serve to be the muscle and skeleton of this album, providing the structure in which houses the fragile, the vulnerable, and the unheard. “Parallel to My Reverse” purveys the idea of drawing beauty out of pain, his lyricism a straightforward pronouncement of betrayal and suffering. Spaced out and somehow reminiscent of “Trust Me”, an outtake released early last year, “Pugnacious Spirits” is an impressionistic cut that produces a dreamlike trance. “Hold Still & Look Up” and “Merry Frolics” are like two halves to a tale, lumped with beauty and tragedy, for one cannot be without the other. Notable for its austere simplicity, ‘”She Has Not Heard” is an impressive and dramatic closing worthy of a film score. The depth of the track almost seems like a taunt to its title, for it’s hard to ignore the pleading; which in turn, makes it the most forlorn and unabated expression of love. Surprisingly, “Lady of All Rung Evenings” was included as a bonus track, which is inarguably a great release, with some minor changes put into effect – no complaints from my end. This song has been a favorite for a long time.

I can talk about meters, pedal effects and such, but it would be a disservice to Francis Lorenzo and everyone who listened and about to listen to his record. We may vary in methods of storytelling, but like his, mine is also personal. His work is now open for interpretation, and this record is something we can derive our own memories from, maybe a peek into his. But being as cunning as he is, we may be only deluded. But by then, it wouldn’t matter.

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