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Auditory Illusion – First Flight

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College is that perfect place for a band – you can skip classes, pick up whatever instrument and play whatever you want. Not to say that’s how Auditory Illusion formed, but there’s likely to be at least one out of three boxes ticked for bands — big and small — all across the world.

Speaking of world, Auditory Illusion is a six-piece fusion progressive rock band comprising members from India who operate via online conversations and home studio recordings, with members all based in the United States now.

You can guess by the nerdy choice of band name that these six instrumentalists want to keep their listeners guessing. Their five-track EP, First Flight , includes songs written by the band members as way back as 2008. ‘Filter Kaapi’ is that wonderful opening number which you can tell has been polished and rewritten to sound what it does like on the CD — with catchy Carnatic violin parts, courtesy Varadharajan Chandran matching complex drumming by Aditya Balu. ‘Terminal 14’ is one that’s more rooted in prog rock, with riffs led by guitarist Kaushik Narayanan that’s bound to get a nod of approval from metal heads.

Throughout First Flight , there’s a psychedelic, Dream Theater-esque contribution from keyboardist and producer Maruthi Chandrasekaran. He quiets down, even, on the closing track ‘Anticipation’, choosing mellow flute-like melodies flowing over each other to create a pleasant, folk slow jam. Chandrasekaran, along with Audtory Illusion’s other founding member, bassist Nikil Kumar, turns to jazz fusion on ‘The Drive’ which sounds as improvised as it does well-written. The bassist and keyboardist duel with each other with bass grooves and melodic keys in a jugalbandi of sorts.

Speaking of duelling, ‘Just in Time’ sounds like a free for all, where each members showcases prowess, from Chandrasekaran’s organ solo to Kumar dropping in bass licks, while Narayanan tries to match the speed and time signature of table player Sai Raman.

If you’re not a fan of virtuoso musicians showing off their skills, First Flight may not be for you, but that’s not the way Auditory Illusion really intends to present itself.

There’s fusion like no other in here — from Carnatic to progressive rock and jazz to metal that’s not just a mash, but a very cohesive sound, that’s presented in the right amount of tracks on First Flight.





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