There’s a lot of drama in the music here.
Come to think of it, there’s a lot of Yes in the music, with Drama being referenced as well as other notable moments from this most imposing of influences. However, Mystery overcome the temptation to turn into something of a tribute band by never allowing any of these reference points to lead them down dimly lit cul-de-sacs. They always remain true to a desire to be individual and aware.
This is the first album the Canadians have recorded with vocalist Jean Pageau, who has taken over from Benoît David. The new man sounds very different to his predecessor, something you can hear as soon as Delusion Rain opens up its deep coffers. He has a beguiling, entrancing voice that operates in a somewhat low-key manner. What Pageau appreciates is that the music here works best when his performance is used to enhance the glorious keyboard/guitar interplay between Benoît Dupuis and Michel St-Père. The former creates an atmosphere that complements sumptuous passages with the occasional drip of an eerie climate, while the latter has a gentility that cloaks an ability to vary nuances, from the graceful to more spiky.
A sweep of deftly cohesive ideas – their finest album so far.
Mystery make this all work brilliantly on The Willow Tree and The Wall Street King. Both of these are actually compositions which go back nearly 20 years, to the time of the band’s first album Theatre Of The Mind. Each is majestically expansive, building from a subtle opening that is reminiscent of Hergest Ridge-era Mike Oldfield into something very cinematic. The Willow Tree is a lengthy excursion which spreads itself over a colourful canvas of ideas. It brings in motifs from so many different sources (Genesis, Caravan, Gentle Giant, Dream Theater), yet holds it all together in a tumultuous arrangement. It’s a mix of ghostly prog images and more contemporary notations. Séance meets science, if you will.
The Wall Street King has an underlying melodic supply, forming the foundation for a track that has a sturdy central pillar, yet weaves a web of interlocking musical declarations around this. But the climax comes fittingly with the closing piece, A Song For You. This encapsulates all the finest aspects of Mystery, combining a power redolent of ELP with the jazz rock inflections of Billy Cobham, as well as the more sensitive areas of 70s Genesis. It all comes together in a sweep of ideas that manages to be deftly cohesive rather than a mere montage of ideas.
Ultimately, Mystery have emerged stronger than ever here. Delusion Rain is arguably their finest album so far.